Unemployment High, Future Uncertain in Iraq

Jan. 24, 2005 -- -- Unemployment remains high, and reports vary as to whether things are going to get better any time soon.

Estimates for a national unemployment rate range wildly -- from 18 percent to 40 percent. These are technically better than estimates given during our earlier Where Things Stand reports -- but our surveys and anecdotal reporting found across-the-board complaints about how hard it is to get work. This discrepancy is difficult to reconcile one way or the other.

On the plus side, salaries have risen for a wide range of professions -- doctors, teachers and police in particular. Iraqis who work with coalition forces or for international reconstruction firms benefit from salaries that are very high compared to what they were paid under Saddam Hussein's regime.

On the negative side is a sad fact with which we are all too familiar: Police, army recruits and others working with coalition forces have been killed and wounded at a remarkable rate.

Facts and Figures

Forty-three percent of Iraqi families have a poor standard of living; 44 percent have a medium standard of living; and only 2 percent enjoy a good standard of living. (Source: Iraq Central Bureau of Statistics)