Fikra # 4: 6 to 12 million unemployed in Morocco instead of 1 million?


"One of the most frequently watched statistical information on which the policy explicitly engages and communicates regularly is that relating to the phenomenon of unemployment. The reason for this is that the unemployment figure is not only an indicator summarizing the performance of the economic system in place and gauging its overall coherence, but it also makes it possible to appreciate the extent of latent social frustrations ", explains Yasser Tamsamani, research professor in macroeconomics at EGE Rabat, in his article "Measuring unemployment in Morocco, a dubious approach", open access since June 2018.

In Morocco, the Office of the High Commissioner for Planning is the only one to calculate the unemployment rate. Its method of calculation is that prescribed by the International Labor Office at the world level. " Referring to the latter, any person aged 15 or over who has not worked recently, even for one hour, available for work and who is actively looking for a job " , is considered unemployed. , recalls Yasser Tamsamani. This internationally standardized definition makes it possible to compare the unemployment rate of all countries with each other.

This very narrow definition was first defined by and for rich countries whose economies and employment are structured. Applied as it is to developing countries, it gives rise to aberrations. "In Morocco, the official unemployment rate is relatively low and compares with that of several so-called advanced countries. Better still, its dynamics being stable (the rate varies between 9% and 10% during the whole post-crisis period 2008), it suggests a good health of the economic system and its resilience compared to its northern neighbors of the Mediterranean the unemployment rate has increased significantly during this period, and also sends a signal of easing social tensions. However, the reality may take another side less cheerful: several other indicators are red sign of an economic model in a phase of breathlessness and social movements and strike are increasingly recurring result of a discontent.

Yasser Tamsamani

The ILO unemployment rate is inoperative

The calculation of the unemployment rate according to the ILO thus becomes inoperative in Morocco because the border between activity and inactivity, between worker and unemployed are much more unclear than in developed countries where a contract of employment determines whether a person has a job or not , where work provides little or no decent living conditions, unemployment insurance allows to look for work … In Morocco, it is not the same.

"The ILO unemployment rate, by definition, excludes a considerable number of people in a precarious and marginalized position in the labor market, either by counting them as employed persons while the remuneration of their work does not equal neither the efforts provided nor the risks taken or the nature of the work, itself, is miserable (part-time workers, without social protection or medical coverage, etc.); or by deducting them from the labor force on the grounds that they are not actively looking for work during the period preceding the survey. "

Yasser Tamsamani

The HCP, well aware of this difficulty, publishes in its National Employment Surveys (ENE) many other indicators that provide information on the employment situation: unpaid employment, underemployment … However, they do not not focus as much on political and media attention. Especially, distinct from each other, they do not offer an overview of the situation as a synthetic indicator could do it.

New synthetic indicators

Yasser Tamsamani therefore proposes the creation of two new unemployment indicators: the halo of unemployment and hypothetical unemployment. " The halo of unemployment is made up of people who are not unemployed in the sense of the ILO but who form the nearest circle and are likely to become so. They share with the unemployed counted the same penalties of marginalization and precariousness vis-à-vis employment, and also suffer similar psychological pressures , "says the researcher. According to its calculations, based on the HCP data, in 2016, the estimate of the unemployment halo in Morocco varies between 6.3 and 12.8 million people (according to the accounting methods of housewives) against 1.1 million unemployed the same year, according to the HCP.

7.7 million housewives

The number of housewives " exceeds 6 million women and the fate that is reserved for them in the count of unemployment represents the main challenge in defining the 'good' measure of unemployment in Morocco , insists the researcher. The current version of the ENE regards them as inactive as if they were all free to choose whether or not to participate in the labor market and if, following this sovereign choice, they had unanimously decided not to to participate . On this point, the HCP provided a response in the National Survey on Employment in 2017: 11.6% of 7.7 million homemakers explain that it is not their choice but rather the decision of their parents. husband, their father or a relative. About 10.9% of all housewives would be willing to work, a quarter of whom were banned by a family member.

Finally, Yasser Tamsamani proposes to calculate the unemployment rate by assuming that Morocco's participation rate is similar to that of a developed country to " measure the gap between people's expectations and the full use of production capacity on one side and the absorptive capacity of the labor market in its current state of the other. In other words, this measure of so-called 'hypothetical' unemployment makes it possible to account for the real extent of social frustrations and the path that remains to be traveled to develop , "explains Yasser Tamsamani. The participation rate in Morocco has lost 6 points over the last ten years, from a rate of 52.3% in 2007 to 46.7% in 2017, which partly explains the fall in the unemployment rate during this same period. If, now, it is brought to its 2007 level or that of high-income countries (ie a rate of 60%) for an unchanged employment rate, the standard unemployment rate would be equal, respectively, to 19.5%. % and 30% . "


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