Iraq: Where Things Stand

On March 1, 2007, U.S. Brigadier Gen. Michael Walsh was asked when Iraq would enjoy full electricity capacity. His answer: 2013. And on Jan. 25, 2007, Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., recalled a warning former U.S. envoy Paul Bremer had given about power blackouts -- "Iraqis," Bremer had said, "face an indefinite period of blackouts eight hours per day." Noting that Baghdad had slipped to less than seven hours per day of power, Biden said, "At this point the eight hours of daily blackouts, as Ambassador Bremer warned about, would be a dramatic step in the right direction."


Average Amount of Electricity Generated (megawatts):

Prewar (Estimates): Nationwide: 3,958 Baghdad: 2,500

January 2005: Nationwide: 3,289 Baghdad: 985

February 2007: Nationwide: 3,600 Baghdad: NA (last available report, April 2005: 854)

Average Hours of Electricity Per Day:

Prewar (Estimates): Nationwide: 4-8 Baghdad: 16-24

January 2005 Nationwide: 9 Baghdad: 9

September 2005 Nationwide: 13.5 Baghdad: 10.4

February 2007 Nationwide: 9.3 Baghdad: 6.0

Oil Production:

Crude production (millions of barrels/day) Prewar: 2.5 (estimate) September 2005: 2.11 February 2007: 2.08

Crude export (millions of barrels/day) Pre-ar: 1.7-2.5 (estimate) September 2005: 1.60 February 2007: 1.54

Unemployment/Availability of Jobs

North: same or worse Central: same or worse South : same or worse

Only 20 percent of Iraqis rate this area positively -- though the fact is that employment has stayed level since we reported last -- and is up sharply since the early days of the war. The latest figures we have put unemployment at anywhere between 25 and 40 percent of the population. And the security situation has made getting to and keeping businesses more difficult.

The government's main employment office reports that the great majority of the unemployed are young -- in their 20s and 30s – and we know from past reporting that young, unemployed men are leading candidates for recruitment by insurgent and terrorist groups. The employment office also tells us that lack of security is the principal problem -- "the government stopped implementing big projects," an official said, "that could have employed many more people."

There is a burgeoning "informal economy" in Iraq -- though much of our information about it comes anecdotally. Certainly there is a range of jobs in Iraq today that did not even exist prior to the war -- Iraqis hired by the U.S. and its coalition partners, Iraqi reporters and writers for the booming television, radio and newspaper trade, to name a few. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, new businesses have increased from 8,000 to more than 34,000.

Median household incomes are up -- according to our polls, from $150 a month in 2004 to $204 in 2005, to $286 today. That improvement has been largely offset by what the State Department in January 2007 reported was the second-highest rate of inflation in the world. Other economic indicators are given below: It is worth noting that while some of these are positive (most notably, a burgeoning GDP), the percentage of Iraqis who rate their economic situation negatively has more than doubled -- from 30 to 64 percent.


Nationwide Unemployment:

June 2003: 50-60 percent September 2005: 27-40 percent January 2007: 25-40 percent

Median Household Monthly Income:

2004: $150 2005: $204 2007: $286

Iraq GDP (U. S. $ billions):

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