The Islamic Republic’s Interior Minister has expressed concern about unemployment; especially in those cities where he says about 60% of the workforce is unemployed.
In an interview with Iran Students News Agency, ISNA, the minister noted, “Social harms are more acute in areas where the unemployment rate is high”.
In the interview he says that in spite of Iran’s 12% national unemployment rate, the same average in some cities has reached to 60%, Abdol-Reza Rahmani Fazli has reiterated, without naming the cities where the rate is so high.
Unemployment among three groups is reaching crisis levels, namely the youth, women, and people with higher education.
Though the official rate of unemployment last year was reportedly 12.04%, it has been much higher in some provinces. Kermanshah with 22%, Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari with 20.02% and Kurdestan with 15% rates have suffered more than other provinces from unemployment.
According to Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare Minister, Ali Rabiei, 3,200,000 Iranians are unemployed. Nevertheless, the parliamentary Center for Research believes that 6,500,000 to seven million people are unemployed in the country.
Part of the huge difference in numbers might be due to the government’s definition of employment. The Islamic Republic considers anyone who works for one hour a week, as employed. This means that the government greatly underestimates the number of the unemployed.
Based on Sixth Five-Year Development Plan, the government is dutybound to create more than 970,000 new jobs in the current Iranian year (starting 21 March 2017).
Masoud Nili, an economist and advisor to President Hassan Rouhani has cautioned, “Unemployment among three groups is reaching crisis levels, namely the youth, women, and people with higher education”.
Rouhani’s critics have repeatedly blamed his administration for the crisis. But independent economists say that the rate of economic growth in the past 38 years has barely been 3% in Iran – which has been inadequate to create enough jobs for a fast growing population.
Without presenting a figure, the interior minister in his interview has admitted that the unemployment rate among graduate job seekers is much higher than the average.
According to the minister, a high level meeting has taken place to discuss social ills, with the participation of the Supreme Leader, ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“An appropriate report on actions taken [to tackle unemployment and reduce social harms] was delivered. However, there’s a very long way to go”, the minister said, speaking about the high-level meeting.
Yet, deputy to Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare Minister, Hassan Taei had earlier noted that the “unemployment rate among people with a university degree is between 21.5% and 22%”.
Furthermore, Rahmani Fazli maintained, “Ayatollah Khamenei has prioritized matters related to social ills”.
“Combat against narcotics and drug addiction”, “slums and suburban settlements”, “divorce” and “fighting crime” were included in priorities set by Khamenei to check social harms, Rahmani Fazli said.
Social problems according to the Islamic Republic’s officials are mainly comprised of drug addiction, poverty, slums and shantytowns, a high rate of school dropout, high crime rate and divorce.