Iraq Tackles Unemployment

An interesting item from Breitbart today…

Iraq has taken a productive step in helping alleviate the massive unemployment, between 35 and 50 percent, that is slowing the country’s crawl toward stability.

BAGHDAD (AP) – They fan out across Baghdad in summer’s scorching heat—men in blue overalls picking up trash, mowing the sparse grass in parks, and standing on ladders to paint highway underpasses and prune palm trees.Iraq’s government has launched a job-creation program in recent months in a first step to address high unemployment and revive the economy—moves that U.S. and Iraqi officials call crucial in advancing Iraq from this summer’s relative calm to a more lasting stability.

Since the invasion, and the disbandment of the army, Iraq has had to simultaneously deal with damaged infrastructure, and increasing violence partly fueled by a flood of the unemployed being absorbed into sunni militias. That violence in turn thwarted US and Iraqi efforts to encourage foreign investment.

A man awaits employment in the Shiite enclave of Sadr City

So Iraq is now a nation with 70 billion dollars in oil revenue, but struggling to spur meaningful investment to create jobs for the citizenry. The government’s inability to mass meaningful oil legislation has also been a hindrance.

The “rot” wasn’t merely the result of the invasion though. Years under a state-run economy controlled by Saddam Hussein’s regime, coupled with years of UN-imposed sanctions put Iraq’s economy in the “doldrums” long before US troops arrived in 2003. The figures are pretty scary.

There are no recent, generally accepted estimates on how much it would cost to secure and rebuild Iraq, perhaps because early figures floated by the U.N., World Bank and Bush administration proved disastrously low. But some private economists have pegged the overall figure at $80 billion to $100 billion, depending on the definition of a “rebuilt Iraq.”

However, the efforts on the government’s part to provide work for those struggling citizens should be applauded as a substantive step in the right direction:

The national government also is offering some limited job training, and it is paying unemployment benefits of about $100 a month to some jobless people.

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