Jordan’s children are joining the kingdom’s workforce in record numbers even as the kingdom records an official adult unemployment rate of 24 percent.
A24 News Agency puts a human face on these statistics by interviewing victims, including fourteen-year-old Mahmoud Ibrahim. He works in a car parts store.
“I am the breadwinner in my home,” said Ibrahim. “I work to support my family and provide for basic needs such as food and drink. In 2016, the country’s Labor Ministry counted 76,000 working youth between the ages of 5 and 17. By last year, that number grew to 100,000 kids, according to official sources.
Ironically, government officials last week proposed closing the Labor Ministry as a part of a series of measures to reverse the decline in foreingn investment which fell sharply from a $3.6 billion peak in 2006 to $726 million in 2021 according to UN data.
The interviewees say they face dangerous risks, and it is clear they pay a psychological cost for their early assumption of the responsibility of providing for their families and the loss of their basic right to education.
Labor leader, Hamada Abu Nijmeh, attributes the surge of nearly 200,000 adults due to the pandemic-induced closures. Those layoffs exacerbated a preexisting high poverty rate which now stands at slightly over twenty four per cent.