Business & Economy

A year after lockdown, Algeria struggles with unemployment, business decline

Algiers, Mar 30 (efe-epa).- A year after Algeria first went into lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, the employment rate has skyrocketed and the business sector has been left heavily damaged.

The pandemic cost 50,000 employees their jobs and has sent the country’s already fragile economy on a downward spiral, which was already going through an acute crisis since 2014 due to the decline in oil and gas prices, the country’s main source of revenues.

According to a report released this week by the Algerian chamber of commerce and industry (CACI), 200,000 workers lack resources and around 180,000 others suffer delays in receiving their wages in the country, where the majority of the population earn a living in the informal sector.

Other reports said that the unemployment rate is over 40 percent, while 62 percent of those working have precarious jobs, impacted by hyperinflation and the currency’s ongoing devaluation.

“The situation is critical, marked by uncertainties and instability. It has become more complicated than in 2014,” economist Mahfoud Kaoubi tells Efe.

“The price of oil continues to seriously affect the decline in the country’s income … But the most critical thing is the recession the business sector is experiencing,” he adds.

Sixty-four percent of Algerian companies have laid off employees amid the pandemic, affecting construction and public works the most, according to CACI.

A month after detecting the first confirmed coronavirus case in Africa in February last year, the Algerian government closed the country’s borders, banned all gatherings and imposed a lockdown that also suspended weekly mass protests that began in February 2019.

The lockdown has remained in place, although Covid-19 infections have been trending downwards, recording less than 100 cases per day in the country of 44 million inhabitants.

“For weeks there has been stability in the number of cases due to three factors: the measures adopted, the health precautions acquired by the population, and the scientific probability that the virus has slowed down,” virologist Mohamed Melhag explains to Efe.

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