Salaries and Unemployment Rise in Iraq

ByABC News
October 29, 2003, 8:22 AM

Nov. 2, 2003 -- -- In the months following the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime, scenes of angry, unemployed Iraqis protesting before U.S. forces greeted readers and viewers all over the world. But while unemployment is on the rise, ABCNEWS and Time news teams discovered that with a new paymaster in town, some Iraqis are earning twice as much as they did before the war.

Northern Iraq: Worse

Central Iraq: Worse

Southern Iraq: Worse

Employment, not surprisingly, is one of the most urgent concerns for Iraqis. And overall, the employment picture is bleak.

The collapse of the Baathist government, the wholesale dismantling of the Iraqi Army, and the "de-Baathification program" has put hundreds of thousands of Iraqis out of work, swelling the already large unemployment figures.

The beneficiaries of what the Coalition Provisional Authority describes as "job creation" have for the most part been petty traders and Iraqis in other low-level positions.

U.S. officials however are optimistic that private industry will soon create large numbers of jobs in agriculture, construction and industry but it hasn't happened yet.

'Tomorrow We Will Kill You'

On the brighter side, many of those Iraqis who are employed are now earning far more than they did in prewar Iraq, thanks to their new paymaster: the CPA.

The coalition has transformed the employment and income picture across the country. Oil workers in the north who earned 100,000 dinars (nearly $60) a month, now pull in 360,000 (more than $210). Workers at the Najaf Water Treatment Plant have seen a weekly pay spike from roughly $4 to $120.

A former physicist who now works in a Baghdad metal shop a lesser job, one might think says his income has tripled. And teachers and doctors report huge salary jumps.

Examples such as these abound. The obvious question is whether the unemployed will be without work for long.

All of our reporters met Iraqis pleading for jobs, and in some cases vowing violence if they didn't get one.

ABCNEWS' Bob Woodruff and Vinnie Malhotra interviewed a soldier in Nasariyah who said he had served in the Iraqi army for 25 years. "Today we will demonstrate peacefully," he told them. "Tomorrow we will kill you."

Editor's Note: This is not a full-fledged, comprehensive poll. But as ABCNEWS and Time review the reporting, research, and surveys completed on the ground, this may be one of the most comprehensive reporting efforts undertaken since the beginning of the Iraq war.