Egypt Labor Market

Egypt’s official unemployment rate rose from just under 10 percent before the 2011 revolution to over 13 percent during the following years of turbulence. Later, it has dropped somewhat again, but in reality the proportion of unemployed is considerably higher than the statistics show and underemployment is widespread.

Three-quarters of the unemployed are under 30, and unemployment is particularly high among academics, with the proportion approaching half. It is also high among women, while a majority of women are out of the official labor force.

Previously, there was a guarantee of government employment for university graduates, which helped create many underpaid jobs with little content. The proportion of government employees has since decreased, mainly due to privatizations. About one in four jobs are currently in the public sector. The agricultural sector employs a little over a quarter of the labor force. Many Egyptians live on black jobs and black stock trading.

Highly educated Egyptians often work in other Arab countries with a shortage of well-educated labor.

A new pension law was adopted in 2010 to enter into force from 2012, with a gradual increase in the retirement age from 60 to 65 years. The law also introduced an unemployment benefit and a pension fund for both private and public employees.

  • COUNTRYAAH: List of key population facts of Egypt, covering most basic population data, religion statistics, and language profiles.

Egypt Population

Independent unions were banned under the Mubarak regime, but in connection with the 2011 revolution, many new unions were formed. All unions had since the 1950s had to belong to the State Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF in English abbreviation). However, the workers had the right to strike. From 2006, a wave of protest strikes began, against low wages, poor work environment, privatization and corrupt managers. During the strike, several professional groups formed free unions, despite the ban. In connection with the revolution, they also formed a new central organization: Independent Egyptian Trade Union Federation (EFITU) and soon it became free to form trade unions. Another independent covenant was added, the Egyptian Democratic Labor Congress (EDLC), after which a number of new covenants were created. It helped make all the covenants relatively weak and fragmented. In 2017, a new law on trade union activities was introduced. On paper, the law ended ETUF’s monopoly, but trade unions have complained that the regulations under the new law do not at all mean freedom of association.



11.3 percent (2019)

Youth Unemployment

32.4 percent (2019)



The tourism industry is approaching opening

June 14

The airports will be reopened on July 1, also for tourists from abroad, the Egyptian government said. First, visitors to major tourist resorts on the Red Sea and the Mediterranean are allowed, places that are far from the million cities and have had a low spread of infection during the covid-19 pandemic. About 200 hotels have been allowed to open, with special hygiene instructions. Major tourist destinations in the inland that the pyramids should be able to return to normal activities gradually. Nearly 1,500 deaths in covid-19 have been confirmed in Egypt.

The IMF pledges on loans to Egypt

June 5

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) handles the $ 5.2 billion one-year loan to Egypt. This is money in addition to the crisis relief against the acute effects of the covid-19 pandemic granted earlier (see April 26).

Threatened by prosecution for genital mutilation

June 3

Three sisters under the age of 18 were sexually assaulted on the pretext of being vaccinated against coronavirus. Now the Prosecutor’s Office announces that it is pursuing a legal case against the sisters’ father and against the doctor who performed the interventions. Female circumcision is prohibited in Egypt and doctors who carry out such interventions risk between five and seven years in prison, but human rights organizations claim that the judiciary rarely acts when it occurs. The tradition dates back to Pharaonic times and occurs both among Christians and among Muslims, although religious authorities in Egypt have spoken out against it.


Beached Egyptians fly home

May 31st

More than 600 Egyptians stranded in Saudi Arabia during the Corona crisis are flown home by Egyptian airlines. Dozens of such flights from other countries have been conducted since Egypt stopped regular air traffic on March 19. At the end of April, the government knew of 3,500 citizens who wanted help to get home. At the end of May, Egypt reported nearly 1,000 deaths in covid-19 and not fully 25,000 confirmed infected.

The singer’s killer gets grace

May 23

Before the weekend id al-fitr, which follows immediately after the fasting month of Ramadan, as usual, a number of prisoners, this time 3 157 people are pardoned. No activists, journalists or political prisoners are released, the news channel al-Jazira notes. But one person who is pardoned raises the prospect: a police officer who in 2010 was sentenced to 25 years in prison for murdering Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim. The contract murder was carried out in Dubai in 2008 on behalf of an Egyptian property magnate and politician. The businessman, who for his part was sentenced to 15 years in prison, was pardoned as early as 2017 with reference to health reasons.

The government wants to introduce corona tax

May 20

The government is adopting a proposal to impose a one percent tax on citizens’ monthly salaries to replenish the cash for combating the corona crisis. All wage earners who earn more, net, than 2,000 Egyptian pounds a month (about SEK 1,200) are expected to contribute throughout the next year. Pensioners will pay 0.5 percent during the same time period. The law is expected to come into force in July. People employed in industries that are severely affected by the pandemic may be exempt, according to the newspaper al-Ahram.

Opening for domestic tourism

15th of May

The government has begun to ease the coronary restrictions and open for domestic tourism, a few days after the IMF has given a clear indication for some crisis relief (see April 26). The central bank’s interest rate on loans to tourism companies has been lowered and a half-year of amortization is available for operations in the industry. However, the authorities retain restrictions on movement for the public during the holiday id al-fitr, which immediately follows the fasting month of Ramadan and 2020 falls one week before the end of May-June.

Sharp criticism of sharpened crisis laws

May 7

The Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International organizations criticize the enlargement of crisis laws that took place in Egypt with corona pandemic as motivation (see April 28). Only a handful of 18 amendments adopted by Parliament on April 22 have a clear link to public health, which HRW believes in vain requires President Sisi not to sign the legislative changes. Amnesty reports that 1,600 detainees have been extended for their detention even though neither themselves nor attorneys have been present in the Criminal Court in Cairo. Egyptian law maximizes detention time to two years, yet it happens that time is extended (now it has been supported by a decision in the Court of Appealon April 28). One case that is highlighted is Shady Habash, imprisoned for a regime-critical music video, which had been in custody for more than two years when he passed away at the end of April-May.

Attack helicopters are upgraded

May 7

President Trump’s government announces to US Congress that Egypt has been awarded a $ 2.3 billion upgrade of 43 US-made Apache helicopters. It deals with broken helicopters and weapons are included in the agreement. US authorities point out that the attack helicopters are used in the Egyptian hunt for terrorist groups in Sinai.

Fight against militant groups in Sinai

May 3

In northern Sinai, 18 suspected jihadists are killed in gunfire with security forces, just a few days after an explosion against an armored vehicle taken by the Islamic State (IS) terror group . The Egyptian army provides a video of its recent efforts against militant groups in Sinai: 126 suspects were killed in 22 raids, when 266 people were also arrested and weapons seized. Increased hunting for militant groups in Sinai has been ongoing since the beginning of 2018. A total of 925 suspects are said to have been killed during that time. The data is more vague about how many soldiers lost their lives, but it’s about dozens.

Notable interview about gender dysphoria

May 3

Hisham Salim, a well-known actor, switches a strong taboo by telling the public that his adult daughter has undergone a gender change. In an interview for a satellite TV channel, the father supports the decision and expresses hopes of greater understanding for people suffering from gender dysphoria. Both the Islamic educational site al-Azhar and the Coptic Orthodox Church are reported to have the attitude that a gender correction may be justified if there are strong medical grounds for it. Being open with their circumstances, on the other hand, is far from being socially accepted in Egypt.


Crisis laws expanded against the spread of infection

April 28

President Sisi extends the state of emergency, as usual with three months, but now with a new justification: concerns are raised for safety reasons during the corona pandemic. The state of emergency was introduced after two devastating bombings against churches carried out by the terrorist group IS in April 2017 and the president can extend it with support from the Constitution of 2014. In Egypt’s 100 million population, 337 deaths in covid-19 have been confirmed so far. The week before, Parliament approved amendments to a 1958 crisis law that allows, among other things, to close schools, give travelers quarantine orders and force private health clinics to participate in the fight against infection.

Egypt seeks crisis assistance from the IMF

26th of April

IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva states that Egypt has requested assistance from the foreign exchange fund in accordance with a mechanism for speedy treatment. Following crisis measures taken as a result of the corona pandemic, Egypt has a foreign exchange reserve that corresponds to its imports for eight months. The $ 2.77 billion clear sign from the IMF will come on May 11, when the fund also stresses that more will be needed. The Egyptian government is expected to direct much of the money to the tourism industry, which employs 14 percent of the workforce but stopped when international flights were stopped to reduce the spread of infection.

Care equipment is shipped to the United States

April 22

Egypt sends an aircraft with protective equipment for health care personnel to the United States, to help in the anti-pandemic covid-19 efforts. Similar deliveries have previously been made to China and Italy , even though the virus is killing lives in Egypt as well . About the same time , Chinese businessman Jack Ma sends medical equipment to Egypt and some other countries in Africa. Presidents Sisi and Trump are keen to show good relations , and Egypt is (much earlier) a major recipient of US military support. Much of that support , worth just over $ 1.2 billion in 2018 , returns to the United States in the form of orders placed with the US defense industry.

Daily wage earner severely exposed group

April 6

President Sisi pledges 500 Egyptian pounds (just under SEK 320) a month to daily wage earners, for three months, for poor families to cope with the Corona crisis. A charity, Egyptian Food Bank, which has a leading role in efforts for the most vulnerable, has begun distributing food packages with basic goods. About one-third of Egypt’s 100 million inhabitants live below the poverty line, estimated to be trying to survive on a dollar and a half a day or less.

Coronavirus eliminates cancer clinic

April 4th

The country’s premier cancer clinic raises alarms that 17 employees, primarily nurses but also doctors, have been infected by the new coronavirus that causes the covid-19 disease. All staff and patients should now be tested and the clinic cleaned up. Officially, Egypt has reported over 70 deaths and thousands of infected have been discovered.


Infectious risk closes sanctuaries, schools and shops

21 March

All Muslim and Christian shrines are closed for prayer for at least two weeks to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. The old mosque at al-Azhar in Cairo, the Sunni Muslim world’s premier educational institution, is also closed. At the time of the decision, almost 300 infectious carriers and ten deaths were confirmed. A week earlier, President Sisi has promised crisis support worth a total of $ 6.3 billion, but it is not expected to cover the losses that Egypt’s tourism industry faces. Store galleries, schools and sports facilities are closed and museums and archaeological excavations are to be closed and cleaned. Air traffic has been stopped until the end of March, with the exception of foreign tourists flying home.

Prison congestion increases coronary risk

March 18th

Four well-known female regime critics are arrested after demanding that prisoners be released in response to the threat of epidemic spread of coronavirus in prisons. The four are released the next day, but the police intervention indicates that the issue is sensitive. Egypt’s institutions are notorious for overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO) has requested more information from governments in the Middle East on how the infection is spread to contribute to safer analyzes of developments. More than 300 families in the Nile Delta (unclear how many people) were quarantined after the first deaths in Egypt.

Severe consequences of rainfall

the 13th of March

The worst rainy weather in several decades has claimed about 20 lives, according to the government. Several of the deaths were required when power lines collapsed. In Cairo, two passenger trains collided and 13 people were injured. Streets and buildings were flooded. Complaints about a lack of infrastructure have been heard for a long time, and the government’s defender says it is about problems inherited from former rulers.

Death penalty for terrorist offenses

March 2

Hisham Ashmawy, an officer who jumped off and became notorious as a militant Islamist , is one of 37 people sentenced to death for terrorist offenses, including attempted murder in 2013 at the then Interior Minister. Ashmawy, for his part, has been sentenced to death for a 2014 attack (see November 27, 2019 and October 8, 2018). On March 4, an Army spokesman announces that Ashmawy met death by hanging.


President Mubarak dies

February 25th

Former President Hosni Mubarak dies. Mubarak, who ruled the country for three decades, was one of the Arabs who were forced out of power by the 2011 public uprisings. see March 2, 2017). The regime announces three days of national grief and announces that Mubarak will be buried with military honors.

Executed for attacks on churches

February 24th

Eight people are executed after being sentenced to death for attacks in 2016 and 2017 against churches and the police. The four assaults on Coptic churches in Alexandria, Cairo and Tanta as well as a police posting in southwestern Egypt claimed a total of 88 lives. In the fall of 2018, 17 people received the death penalty for involvement in the death, which the Islamic State (IS) terror group took on. Nine people who were convicted in their absence have not been arrested.

Egypt is building a wall against the Gaza Strip

February 19

Egypt has begun to build a concrete wall along the Gaza Strip border. The wall replaces a lower barrier that also has a deep structure and is used to detect tunnels dug for smuggling between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. The Gaza Strip borders south with Egypt, and the Rafah border crossing is the only Palestinian area that does not lead to Israel.

Egyptians now over 100 million

February 11

Egypt’s population has passed 100 million, the state statistics agency reports. The population is the highest in the Arab world and the third highest in Africa next to Nigeria and Ethiopia. On average, a baby is born in Egypt every 18 seconds, but the population is not growing as fast as before. The reason for that is believed to be that the government is trying to encourage people not to raise such large families.

Soldiers and jihadists killed in Sinai

February 9

Seven soldiers are killed in a Sinai attack carried out by a militant group. The army claims to have fought back the attack and killed ten of the attackers. In northern Sinai, an armed Islamist revolt has been going on for several years. In February 2018, government forces began hunting for militant groups there and the regime states that a total of 840 suspected jihadists have been killed. Nearly 70 soldiers have lost their lives during the two-year period.


Genital mutilation with deadly exit

January 31

The parents of a 12-year-old girl are arrested since it emerged that the girl was bleeding when undergoing a traditional circumcision, which means that the genitals are truncated. Also a doctor who should have performed the circumcision is arrested, as well as another relative of the girl. A few days later, the parents are released, and the doctor is released on bail. The intervention was banned in Egypt in 2008 and the sentence was sharpened in 2016, but it is still common. It occurs both among Muslims and among Christians, and many believe it to be a religious injunction. In the present case, which occurred in Asyut, it was a male relative who reported what happened. When the doctor is released on February 6 (the same day that activists observe an international zero-tolerance day against female circumcision), Dar al-Ifta comes out with a statement declaring genital mutilation to be prohibited under Islamic law. Dar al-Ifta is a state institution that provides advice and guidance in matters pertaining to religious law.

Universities may ban facial veils

January 27

Teachers at Cairo University may be prohibited from wearing niqab, a garment with a facial veil. 80 researchers at the university who want to wear such a veil appealed a ban introduced in 2016, but Egypt’s highest administrative court now dismisses their complaint. As a motive for the ban, it has been stated, among other things, that niqab impairs communication between students and teachers.

Anniversary without protests

January 25

Nine years have passed since the popular revolution that overthrew President Mubarak. Calls for new protests against today’s military-dominated regime receive little hearing. Mohamed Ali, a businessman and regime critic in exile, announces that he is giving up politics (see December 9, 2019). He has tried in vain via social media to get Egyptians to demonstrate in connection with the anniversary.

Soon, three years with exceptional laws

January 19

The state of emergency will be extended by three months, from January 27, the government announces. This means that Egypt will soon emerge for three years with exceptional laws. They were introduced in April 2014 after double bombings against two Coptic churches that claimed more than 40 lives. With a state of emergency, freedom of speech and assembly can be restricted and the police have far-reaching powers to arrest people and keep them imprisoned. In practice, demonstration bans have also prevailed since 2013. The conditions are thus similar to those that prevailed under former dictator Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted from power in 2011 after ruling with exceptions laws for decades.

Conflict mediation on pond construction

January 16

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan are reported to have reached an agreement in principle in a conflict involving Ethiopians in the process of building a giant dam in the Blue Nile, one of the largest tributaries to the Nile. Ethiopia is in dire need of electricity, but Egypt and Sudan, both downstream, believe the river system is being drained of water at their expense. The hydroelectric power plant will be the largest in Africa. According to the agreement, which was reached through mediation by the United States and the World Bank , the dam should be filled with water gradually, while the rainy season prevails. Disagreement over the details causes the mediation to continue.

Conflict with Turkey is spearheaded

January 14

State Turkish news agency Anatolia gets its Cairo office scanned. A Turkish national and three Egyptians are arrested. The raid leads to a diplomatic protest from Turkey the following day. The events take place in a situation where there are contradictions between Egypt and Turkey today in the region: in an ongoing civil conflict in Libya, the various sides support each other. There has been insomnia before, when Turkey backed the Muslim Brotherhood as ruler of Egypt before the Islamists were deposed by a military coup in 2013.

Christian rules for Copts

January 5

An Egyptian court has decided that Christian rules on equal inheritance rights for sons and daughters should be applied to Coptic (Christian) families. A female lawyer has driven her own case to get as much inheritance from her father as her brothers. Egyptian laws are contradictory: the constitution states in the area of ​​family law that the Copts are allowed to follow their own inheritance law. Nevertheless, courts have applied a 1940s law on Muslim inheritance rules for all. Islamic law gives daughters half their inheritance as sons.

Egypt Labor Market