The unemployment rate for Palestinian college graduates in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 2017 was 55.8 percent, according to a Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics report published on Sunday.
Some 37.8 percent of male graduates and 72% of female graduates were unemployed in 2017, said the report, which was published on the occasion of International Youth Day.
Comparatively, in a 2016 report, the PCBS found that college graduate unemployment stood at 51% in the first quarter of 2016.
Palestinian graduates who studied education and teaching recorded the highest unemployment rate in 2017 — 69.6% — whereas those who studied law registered the lowest unemployment rate at 25.7%, according to Sunday’s report.
The report did not break down the differences in unemployment among college graduates in the West Bank and Gaza.
Gaza has long had a significantly higher overall unemployment rate than the West Bank. Earlier this year, the PCBS reported that unemployment rates in the West Bank and Gaza were 18% and 49%, respectively.
PA Labor Minister Mamoun Abu Shahla said that Israel must lift restrictions on the movements of goods in and out of the West Bank and Gaza to lower the unemployment rate among college graduates.
“The Israeli side needs to allow us to have normal flow of goods to bring down the devastating unemployment rate among graduates,” Abu Shahla told The Times of Israel on Sunday. “Our businesses often struggle to grow and employ new workers because they are unable to export their products and import needed raw materials. Like any other market, movement of goods is a key to economic development and employing workers.”
Israel generally allows for the import and export of goods in and out of the West Bank and Gaza, but also substantially restricts and regulates them, especially those entering and exiting the Strip. The Israeli security establishment maintains that its restrictions on the movement of goods are in place to prevent the transfer of weapons or materials that could be transformed into weapons to terror groups.
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the branch of the Defense Ministry responsible for liaising with the Palestinians, declined to comment.