THE country’s unemployment rate shot up to 94 percent last year from 80 percent previously as key industries downsized operations while others closed shop because of the turbulent economic environment.
In a report titled The Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) 2009, the United Nations said diminishing opportunities on the country’s job market were causing serious suffering among the increasingly restive Zimbabwean population.
“At the close of 2008, only six percent of the population was formally employed, down from 30 percent in 2003,” the UN said.
The latest UN figures indicate that out of the country’s estimated population of 12 million about 480,000 people are in formal employment, down from about 3,6 million in 2003.
It therefore means that apart from having record-breaking inflation levels, Zimbabwe has also entered the league of countries with the highest rates of unemployment in the world.
Last year, several mines and clothing and textile manufacturers offloaded thousands of workers onto the streets weighed down by the decade-long economic recession. Scores of companies have also failed to re-open after the Christmas shutdown, further inflating the numbers on the job market.
“The most obvious indicator of the current decline is the staggering inflation rate, which rose from 11,2 million to 231 million percent from June and to July 2008 respectively, further eroding the population’s purchasing power and exposing families to severe economic hardship. The decline in both formal and informal sector employment opportunities has had a negative impact on the average household income,” reads part of the report.
The report said 50 percent of the urbanites were relying on remittances from Zimbabweans in the diaspora.
“Importantly, in 2008 remittances from Zimbabweans in neighbouring countries — South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and Mozambique — were in the form of food and essential household commodities, as well as cash,” the report said.
“The economic decline, combined with ad-hoc financial policies, creates significant operational challenges such as increased procurement prices for supplies, payment of duties for imports, payment of salaries, access to food for staff, fuel shortages, and the management of foreign exchange,” it added. The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the economic environment in Zimbabwe will continue to deteriorate this year, adding that the current farming season was a flop.
The UN last year launched an appeal for US$550 million to help at least 5,1 million Zimbabweans estimated to require food aid before the next harvest in April.