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New Iranian jobs plan faces major obstacles

The Rouhani administration has unveiled a comprehensive employment plan in a bid to realize the president’s campaign promises, but it is unclear whether the envisioned job creation will materialize given the obstacles that remain unaddressed.
Iranian President and presidential candidate Hassan Rouhani (R), along with current vice-president and presidential candidate Eshaq Jahangiri, attend a campaign rally for the upcoming presidential elections in the capital Tehran on May 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE        (Photo credit should read ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran’s First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, who also serves as head of the Resistance Economy Command Headquarters, last month unveiled a comprehensive employment plan that envisions the creation of 971,700 jobs by the end of the current Iranian year (March 20, 2018). This target could be achieved if the allocated 215 trillion rials ($6.6 billion) in credit is secured, and most importantly, if the cost of job creation is significantly cut. Meanwhile, the plan is silent on the ample red tape that must be removed for unemployment to decrease.

The latest data released by the Statistical Center of Iran (SCI) put the national unemployment rate for the first (spring) quarter at 12.6% — 0.4% higher than the same period last year. Labor Minister Ali Rabiei on May 18 warned that unemployment will remain high for the next several years as long as the pace of the development of small businesses remains slow. Of note, the energy sector was the main recipient of investment in the last Iranian calendar year, which ended March 20, without creating a significant number of jobs.

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