The Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics in Egypt declared a decline of unemployment in Q4 of year 2020 to 7.2 per cent compared with 7.3 per cent in Q3 of year 2020, and eight per cent in Q4 of year 2019. The agency attributed the decline to “going back to life again after the end of the lockdown and partial curfew the state made due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” In the first instance, this declaration appears as a good indicator, but a further audit of the research on manpower reveals that such a number is deceptive, and that the decline is caused by underemployment in unofficial and indecent jobs.
According to CAPMAS, wage earners diminished from 73.5 in Q3 to 70.5 per cent in Q4, and working business owners diminished from 9.9 per cent to 7.2 per cent. On the other hand, the self-employed increased from 11.9 per cent to 16.5 per cent, and shareholders in family business increased from 4.6 per cent to 5.8 per cent. This pattern has persisted since its appearance in the data on Q3. “The attitude towards self-employment and family business indicates that most job opportunities in the market are unofficial and indecent,” stated CAPMAS consultant Professor Heba Ellaithy. “The concept of a decent job includes permanence, contracting, and provision of social insurance.” Ellaithy added, “It is difficult to expect the increase of jobs in the official sector currently, as this period witnesses no positive indicators regarding economic performance, especially in the private sector.”
Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), which measures the performance of the non-oil private sector, declined last December, after transient improvement in October and December. This indicates that there was no attitude for the private sector towards employment. Al-Sisi’s regime doctors the numbers through disclosing the positive indicators whilst covering the negative ones. For example, CAPMAS issued last December research on income and spending revealing that the poverty rate declined for the first time since 1999/2000, to 29.7 per cent in 2019/2020 from 32.5 per cent in 2017/2018.
Such news appears great, but further audits reveal that the research was ceased in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and started up again in September 2020. Moreover, Professor Heba Ellaithy attributed the decline of the poverty rate, not to an improvement of living conditions, but to the shock caused by the sharp rise of prices pushing families to withdraw their children from education to work and help their families. This resulted in the decrease of students in secondary schools and the increase of child labour by three per cent in 2019/2020. It is noteworthy that in May 2020, the Institute of National Planning expected that the following waves from the COVID-19 crisis will lead to an increase of the poor reaching 12.5 million persons in 2020/2021.
CAPMAS previously issued a study over the effects of the COVID-19 crisis in May 2020, concluding that the income of 73.5 per cent of persons will decrease, and 50 per cent of family resorted to loans to adapt the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. Another CAPMAS study in September 2020 mentioned that families are still lowering their consumption of meat and fruits and buy cheaper food six months after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the consumption of fruits decreased by five per cent, meat by 18.3 per cent and poultry by 14.4 per cent.