High Unemployment and Failing Economy Drive Iranian Youth to Largest Protest Seen Since 2009

By INU Staff

INU - Protests in dozens of cities across Iran have continued since Friday, December 29, 2017. The protests started spontaneously in the holy city of Mashhad. It is generally agreed that unemployment, especially among the youth, played a major role in fueling the protests.

The following are definitions of unemployment and the employed according to the Statistical Center for Iran:

Working Age Population

This refers to all individuals aged 10 and above who contributed to the output of goods and services (employed) or had the ability to contribute to this output (unemployed) in the calendar week during which the census took place (the reference week).

Employed

This refers to all individuals 10 years or older who worked at least one hour during the census reference week, or, for whatever reason, had left their jobs temporarily. The employed fall into two general categories: wage/salary earners and the self-employed. Those who left work temporarily during the reference week — while keeping official job connections for wage and salary earners and the continuity of business for the self-employed — are considered to be employed. In addition, because of their importance to the country’s economic output, the following individuals are also considered to be employed:

- Individuals who work for a family member or a relative without receiving a wage (unpaid family workers).

- Apprentices who during their training perform work for the training institution, meaning that they are directly involved in the production of goods and services.
- Students who worked during the census reference week.

- All individuals who work permanently or temporarily for the armed forces (this includes personnel, non-commissioned officers, draftees, and members of the police and the military).

Iran’s population is suffering from unemployment, inflation and rising living costs. This especially affects the young people. Unemployment has risen to 12.4 percent — among youths, the rate has climbed to 28.8 percent. It’s not surprising then, that an Iranian official admitted that more than 90 percent of people who have been arrested in this uprising are under 25 years old and don’t have a criminal record.

The Iran nuclear deal went through two years ago, and citizens are angry that it didn’t solve the country’s economic problems. People are not seeing the improvement they expected.

Nearly three-quarters of Iran’s population is under 35. The majority of the population was born after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. They want a better life with more opportunity. The Islamic Republic can’t seem to be able to adopt the new visions that this new generation is demanding.

A clear message was sent by the Iranian people about the kind of society they want, when they elected President Hassan Rouhani to a second term, with 24 million votes. Rouhani promised more personal freedom, to support women’s rights, to improve access to social media, and to cut off the Revolutionary Guard Corps from the country’s economy. However, those promises have yet to be fulfilled.