Morocco’s unemployment rate rises to 11.9% in 2020

RABAT (Reuters) - Morocco’s unemployment rate rose last year to 11.9% from 9.2% in 2019, the planning agency said on Wednesday, citing the double impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and drought.

Farm income hinges on volatile rainfall levels in the semi-arid North African country, pushing more rural people to seek work in urban areas. While 295,000 jobs were shed in the countryside last year, 137,000 jobs were lost in cities, the agency said.

In 2020, there were 1.42 million unemployed people in Morocco, where the informal economy accounts for 20% of non-Agricultural GDP, it said. The unemployment rate among people aged 15 to 24 rose to 31.2%.

The planning agency said it expects Morocco’s economy to grow 4.6% in 2021 after contracting by 7% last year, assuming average rainfall.

Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi, Editing by Timothy Heritage