Office of the Chief Economist - Middle East & North Africa

April 14, 2022

Balancing Act: Jobs and Wages in the Middle East and North Africa When Crises Hit

Covid-19. The Russian invasion of Ukraine. Commodity price volatility. The rise of global inflation and interest rates. Currency depreciations among indebted middle-income economies. And now, natural disasters. As a sequence of events, the consequences can be both tragic and long-lasting. After analyzing the macroeconomic prospects of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region, this edition of the regional Economic Update assesses the human toll of macroeconomic shocks in terms of lost jobs and deteriorating livelihoods of the people of MENA. Growth is forecast to decelerate in 2023 after experiencing an oil-price induced growth spurt in 2022 among the high-income oil exporters of the region. Yet as the region continues to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 shock and navigates the heightened volatility in its terms of trade, the region’s labor force is contending with the ramifications for their livelihoods of the inflationary pressures associated with currency fluctuations in some countries. The authors estimate that the macroeconomic shocks of 2020-22 led to an additional 5.1 million individuals becoming unemployed in MENA. Will these shocks permanently scar the hard-working people of MENA? The report answers this question by highlighting the trade-offs facing labor markets when facing macroeconomic shocks. A critical trade-off pertains to the loss of jobs versus decreases in real incomes, neither of which is desirable. The report advocates for maintaining the flexibility of real wages and discusses policy options to support the most vulnerable.

Last Updated: Oct 05, 2023


The MENA Chief Economist Seminar Series is a regular event organized to shed light on and debate the latest research relevant to the Middle East and North Africa. The MENA Chief Economist Seminar Series are held in the World Bank offices in Washington, DC and are open to the public. If you’d like to attend, please send a request to


MENA Chief Economist Seminar Series




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