The most recent reliable unemployment data available for Iraq comes from the Iraq Living Conditions Survey carried out in 2004 by the Iraqi Ministry of Planning and Development Cooperation/United Nations Development Programme. There is no other more recent comparable survey. The 2004 survey found that the core unemployment rate in Iraq was just over 10 per cent. (using the International Labour Organisation definition i.e. looking for but unable to find employment). In 2004, Iraq had a working age population of 16.4 million, but only 6.7 million (41 per cent.) were working or actively seeking work. 6 million of these were employed, leaving 700,000 (around 10 per cent.) unemployed. Unemployment was highest in Baghdad at 13.5 per cent., then the South at 10.8 per cent.; then 9.1 per cent. in the North and the lowest in the centre at 8.2 per cent. The survey also notes that workforce participation is higher in rural areas than urban areas.
Available data show that Iraq has always had a very low workforce participation rate, in line with other countries in the region. This can be attributed to low participation rates among women (common to other countries in the region) and young men. Young men constitute 15 per cent. of the economically inactive (i.e. above 15-years-old but not seeking employment). The majority of young economically inactive men (68 per cent.) claim they are studying and thus not available to work. 20 per cent. claim that there are no jobs available and have therefore given up looking for work.
Ongoing violence in Iraq makes job creation difficult, and in particular discourages private investment which could boost employment. DFID is working with the Iraqi Government to ensure that when the security situation improves, the economy is stable and in a position to grow and to generate new jobs.