Unemployment and Job Creation

According to Egypt’s 2015 Statistical Yearbook, unemployment was 13% in 2014, an increase from 9.4% in 2009. The rate of unemployment was far higher for females (23%) than males (5.2%) in 2008, and similarly in 2014, the unemployment rate for females (24%) was more than double that of their male (9.6%) counterparts. Despite being far lower than the female unemployment rate, between 2008 and 2014 unemployment among males almost doubled.

Table 5.17: Unemployment rates for the population 15 years and older by sex (2009–2014)

Sex 2009 2011 2013 2014
Male 5.2 8.9 9.8 9.6
Female 23.0 22.7 24.2 24.0
Total 9.4 12.0 13.2 13.0

Source: CAPMAS, 2015[34]

ILO estimates indicate that the youth unemployment rate was 33.4% in 2016. Although this rate dropped from 38.6% in 2014, it is significantly higher than the rate of 2000 (25.1%). Between 2000 and 2016, the female youth unemployment rate was much higher than the male rate, and though the difference between the two declined somewhat over this period it was still considerable in 2016 (29% for males and 46% for females). Since 2000 the youth unemployment rate has been more than four times that of significantly higher than the adult rate, over four times greater in 2016.

Table 5.18: Unemployment rates for the youth (15–24 years) and adult (over 25 years) population (2000–2016)

  15–24 years Over 25 years
  2000 2014 2015 2016 2000 2014 2015 2016
Total 25.1 38.6 33.9 33.4 4.4 7.6 8.4 7.7
Male 16.8 33.6 31.3 29.0 2.6 4.8 5.0 4.5
Female 44.8 52.8 41.4 45.7 12.1 17.5 20.3 18.7

Source: : ILO, 2017[35]

In 2014, the majority of the unemployed population (39.7%) had completed an intermediate (technical secondary) education, while 27.9% had obtained a university education or higher. This is an extremely high proportion of the unemployed that are skilled or highly skilled. Surprisingly, of the unemployed population, only 6.1% could only read and write and 10.4% had no education at all. Among unemployed women, 35.6% had a tertiary education, compared to 21.9% of unemployed men.

Table 5.19: Distribution of the unemployed population by education and sex (2013–2014)

Education level 2013* 2014
Total Male Female Total
Illiterate 9.8 9.3 11.9 10.4
Read and write 3.4 9.5 1.7 6.1
Lower than intermediate (below secondary) 8.6 16.4 2.5 10.3
General or Al-Azhar secondary 1.6 2.4 0.7 1.7
Intermediate (technical secondary) 41.1 37.0 43.3 39.7
Above intermediate and below university 4.5 3.4 4.3 3.8
University or higher 31.1 21.9 35.6 27.9

Sources: *CAPMAS, 2015[36]; CAPMAS, 2015[37]

Correspondingly, the unemployment rate was highest among those with a university education (20%), followed by those with an intermediate (technical secondary) education (16.4%) and those with a general or Al-Azhar secondary education (14.5%). The rate was lowest among the illiterate (5.8%) and those that can only read and write (8.7%). Unemployment tended to be substantially higher among women than men at all levels of education, and the difference was highest among those with technical secondary and tertiary education.[38]

Table 5.20: Unemployment rate by educational attainment and sex (2014)

Education level Male Female Total
Illiterate 4.2 9.6 5.8
Read and write 8.4 12.2 8.7
Lower than intermediate (below secondary) 11.4 13.0 11.6
General or Al-Azhar secondary 13.1 28.1 14.5
Intermediate (technical secondary) 11.1 34.5 16.4
Above intermediate and below university 7.7 23.1 11.5
University or higher 13.7 31.6 20.0

Source: CAPMAS, 2015[39]

The World Bank attributes unemployment in Egypt largely to the stagnation of formal private sector businesses in the last 15 years. Small firms that would generate employment struggle to compete with larger, older firms, partly because government policies and regulations favour the latter. The bank argues that if regulations were applied uniformly, smaller firms would be better able to compete, and consequently create employment.[40] Since small to medium enterprises are labour-intensive and geographically dispersed they can offer employment to the youth and women in poverty stricken areas.[41]

Promoting entrepreneurship, especially among the youth, is another job creation strategy that the country can implement to reduce unemployment. Roughly a third of youth interviewed in 2013 who opened their own businesses did so because wage work was scarce, suggesting that limited number of jobs and unemployment has pushed the youth to become entrepreneurs.[42]

In 2015, the Egyptian government announced that it would privatise a number of state owned oil and gas, chemicals, utilities and shipping companies over three to five years. This will entail selling minority shares (not exceeding 24%) to interested parties in the private sector as part of the conditions of an IMF USD$12bn loan. In the 4th quarter of 2017, 24% of state owned company Engineering for the Petroleum and Process Industries (ENPPI) is set to go on sale as part of this programme.

Privatisation could benefit Egypt through revenue generation for the government, improving efficiency in privatised companies due to reduced political interference and increased accountability to shareholders. If small and medium sized companies are able to benefit from the privatization, this could result in increased economic competition. The privatization process could also result in increased employment.

As it stands however, though privatisation is likely to generate much needed revenue and attract some investment in the flailing economy, it is unlikely to address the much larger problem of unemployment. This is because the selling of minority stakes in the different companies means that the government will remain largely in control of the companies (76%) and any efficiency, management or competition issues will remain shaped by political factors. Without proper deregulation policies to create more opportunities for other companies in the sector the opposite could result - a few companies dominate.

  • Country Profile
  • Introduction
  • Broad Economic Indicators
  • Currency and Exchange Rate
  • Competitiveness and Ease of Doing Business
  • Foreign Investment and Largest Companies
  • Foreign Aid
  • Country Strategic Framework
  • Summary of Economic Conditions
  • Implications, Challenges and Recommendations
  • Population
  • Living Standards and Poverty Levels
  • Healthcare
  • Implications, Challenges and Recommendations
  • Qualifications Profile of the Population and Workforce
  • Levels of Schooling and Basic Education
  • Technical and Vocational Education and Training
  • Tertiary Education
  • Innovation in Egypt
  • Implications, Challenges and Recommendations
  • Labour Force
  • Employment by Sector
  • Employment by Skill Level
  • Employment by Occupation
  • Labour Productivity
  • Unemployment and Job Creation
  • Expatriates, Immigrants and the Egyptian Diaspora
  • Wage and Salary Trends and Social Insurance
  • Industrial Relations Framework
  • Labour Market Efficiency
  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution
  • Implications, Challenges and Recommendations

Need Assistance?

We created this platform with you in mind. Every aspect and all the information were meticulously planned and designed to offer you the highest quality content and a pleasant user experience.

If you need assistance or have suggestions, please let us know.

+27 11 706 6009

+27 11 706 6009