Jumana Ghunaimat

Poverty and Unemployment.. Figures Steadfast

تم نشره في Sun 14 February / Feb 2016. 01:00 AM - آخر تعديل في Mon 15 February / Feb 2016. 12:37 AM

The new figures on poverty and unemployment in the Kingdom were reluctantly kept unpublished by the government until earlier today —and they are seriously troubling. The percentage of Jordanians living in poverty according to the Department of Statistics has reached 20 per cent, and unemployment amounts to 15 per cent of employable Jordanians.

The new findings came out in conjunction with the completion of the general census and household survey of income and expenditure for the year 2013. Since then, poverty has increased by 5.5 per cent. This fundamental increase reflects the deteriorating situation of many Jordanians over the last couple of years.

These results show that many of the categorised "In-Transit Poor” have in fact slipped below the line of sustenance, after they could not —by virtue of their pressing circumstances, sustain their status.

Moreover, based on the published findings, middle class in Jordan seems to be shrinking, particularly the lower middle income segments of society. The vitality of this issue comes from the need and persistent calls over the years to save and support the middle class from further deterioration, against adopted policies that harm their economic and social situation.

Contrary to long advocated and advised warnings to preserve the middle class in Jordan, it seemed that all of the difficult governmental decisions and legislations adopted over recent years have more or less eroded it. These decisions have rendered middle income segments of society unable to weather the recent economic storm of recurrent financial turmoil.

On another note, this increase in poverty rates signals —surely; a widening gap between sections of the social strata nationwide. The poor are increasingly getting poorer, eating into the already disintegrating middle class, as the upper stratus keeps its ever so small size, with increasing gains, nonetheless! It is self-evident that such improper distribution of income and resources generally, entails a threat to social stability.

Obviously, the increase of unemployment by two percentile points, however, does not come as a surprise; it is to be expected given the current state of economy, especially with prolonged delays in the processing of large scale imbalances in the local labour market.

These are social indicators to the inflammation of social complications in Jordan on the most sensitive and crucial levels. Economic sustenance and employment are the basis of social security above all else. The rise of unemployment, and this is no secret, means more marginalization and sidelining of youth —the already suspended unproductive youth.

This is increasingly pressing and threatening. Because youth in Jordan are uninvolved in any aspect of the social production of their difficult present, let alone their future. There is a widespread sense of frustration among the younger generation who feel incapacitated; they simply are not impressed with their reality and there seems to be nothing they can do about it.

These issues raise alarm to various even more threatening potential problems, including the increasing spread of mass criminal behaviour among youth; these problems increase their potential recruitment and involvement in terrorism and extremism —both equally pointless and destructive.

In light of all that, the enclosure of the real accurate findings in regards to poverty and unemployment rates in Jordan surpasses ethical obligation. It amounts to more than transparency and credibility, but to the point of practical necessity. What is needed is the ability to identify these problems without any down-sizing or beautification, so that we may address them and perhaps solve them, or at least reduce their aggravation.

In this discourse, a review of the current governmental financial policy is a must. This unilateral solution in regards to increasing revenue from taxation and other means without paying any attention to the implications and effects of such economic measurements on the society, is not without peril —on the contrary.

Obviously, concealing and disguising facts and figures will not change them. Nor will it change the intensity and seriousness of the social situation and its consequence. It does so only in the minds of  officials who insist on keeping information from the public; who reassure themselves that poverty and unemployment rates are within an acceptable range, thus living in a state of denial, for which their Country shall pay dearly.