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World Association of International Studies

Post Morocco and Employment
Created by John Eipper on 01/29/12 2:31 PM

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Morocco and Employment (Randy Black, USA, 01/29/12 2:31 pm)

Gilbert Davis's 29 Jan. response to my 26 Jan. post on unemployment in Morocco seems to be based entirely on his two decades-old experience in the North African country. Don't misunderstand me, I've never been there. I can only search the "library of the world wide web."

Gilbert said, "I would be very, very skeptical of the official unemployment numbers (Randy) cites." That Gilbert labeled anything from my post as "official" is perhaps a mistaken conclusion to jump to.

To begin with, I agree totally with Gilbert that one should not trust entirely most "official" government press releases when searching for facts regarding any nation. That's why I researched and gathered from a variety of unconnected sources ranging from international banks to governments to NGO sources located in Europe, South and North America.

The rates that I quoted came from a variety of sources including the respected Trading Economics organization headquartered in New York City, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, IndexMundi (global source run by MIT grads from Bolivia), Council of Arab Economic Unity, the CIA Factbook and the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA). These organizations rely on their own economic specialists in country and around the world, near as I can tell.

From my own research, it's pretty clear that the employment situation in Morocco has changed in the past two decades from that which Gilbert experienced in early 1990s. I invited Gilbert to study the site:


Studying their tables dating back a half dozen years, one can see that Morocco's unemployment rates have varied from a low of 7.8 percent to a high of 10.9 percent. Over the past couple of years, Morocco's unemployment rate has ranged from the low 8's to the current 9.1 percent depending upon whether you gather from the World Bank, tradingeconomics.com or IndexMundi.

However, the US State Dept. notes that the 2010 unemployment rate among young urban males ranged up to 31 percent. Illiteracy in rural areas is a significant problem among men and especially women.

Other interesting facts: Current population--34.88 million; inflation rate--under 2 percent; GDP--US$ 153.25 billion (2010); government debt to GDP--49.9 percent (down from 73.7 percent in 2000). Morocco's population is mostly Sunni Muslim but there are Jews, Christians and Baha'i, all of whom live and practice their religions freely and peacefully. When Iraq brutally invaded Kuwait way back when, Morocco sent its troops to help defend Saudi Arabia from potential attack.





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  • In Morocco, 1959 (Miles Seeley, USA 01/31/12 3:21 AM)
    I have nothing scholarly or enlightening to add to the several interesting recent posts about Morocco, but here goes anyway:

    In 1959 my wife and I flew to Paris, bought a Peugeot, and drove through France and Spain to Algeciras, crossed by ferry, then down to Marrakech. Stayed there most of a year and then relocated to Tangier. I acted as the wayward son of a well-to-do family and immediately found myself in good company in Tangier.

    It was a time of some uncertainty on the country. Tangier reverted to Moroccan rule and the banks and smugglers departed, leaving parts of the city deserted. King Mohammad V died, and his son Hassan II took power. Hassan, educated in France and a notorious playboy, reinvented himself overnight. His mistresses were shipped back to France, he sold his sports cars, and he donned white robes and set out to visit every tribal leader in the country. That was a smashing success and it taught me a valuable lesson about tribal ties in The Mahgreb and elsewhere in the Arab world.

    I got some horses and played polo for the Club Diplomatique in Tangier. That was an entree to some interesting circles in Tangier, Rabat, and in Gibraltar and Spain. My son was born in the clinic of an orthopedic surgeon in Tangier, a man who trained at the Mayo Clinic and spent years in a free clinic in Shanghai. In WWII he jumped from a light plane (no chute, and therein lies an astounding tale) into Occupied France and served as a doctor to resistance fighters.

    And so on and so forth. I of course cannot talk about the clandestine part of my life there, but it was interesting and sometimes a little edgy. I had many valued friends among the ex-pats and the local community, and recall all of it with fondness.

    JE comments: Miles Seeley sends a fascinating taste of "Company" life inside Morocco. We are accustomed to thinking of that country as the front lines of espionage during WWII (at least it was in Casablanca), but I wonder if Miles could give us a general idea of how relatively "hot" it was during the Cold War.

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  • Morocco During First Gulf War (Gilbert Davis, USA 02/02/12 5:53 AM)
    My apologies to Randy Black (29 January) for doubting his statistics regarding Moroccan unemployment. Indeed, I am very impressed with the thoroughness of his search for the figures he has come up with. I will certainly think twice before doubting him again. My impression from many years ago comports more nearly with what Randy adds as the US State Department's 2010 estimate of the up to 31% of unemployed urban youth.

    Randy also refers to Morocco's having been a coalition partner in the First Gulf War, which broke out during my first Fulbright tour. Interestingly for me, the morning war was announced I was lecturing at the university in Meknes on Keats's odes, and Romantic poetry in general (which is about as far from Gulf War politics as one can get), when a large student demonstration erupted, complete with anti-American signs and slogans. As soon as my lecture was over a number of English Department colleagues appeared to escort me to safety. As they were trying to form a protective cordon, a stray demonstrator--carrying a sign with an unpleasant picture of American war atrocities--inadvertently bumped into me, and in perfect English quickly apologized and dashed off to catch up with the other demonstrators. My being the only physical symbol on campus of the "American aggressors" made my colleagues very nervous, yet during the next few days all the students I talked to were very polite and made no mention of the war. Alas, very shortly the US State Department ordered all non-essential personnel home. To my knowledge the only reported injury to a foreigner from the continued anti-American demonstrations was to a Canadian youth, whose maple leaf flag apparently didn't help.

    When I returned to Morocco the following winter to continue lecturing, there was simply no mention of the Gulf War, and for me life spun out its interesting web among interesting colleagues and delightful students.

    JE comments:  A wonderful story of Moroccan hospitality.  Gilbert Davis mentions the trope of Canadian students touring the world with Maple Leaf imagery, usually sewn on their backpacks.  The message is clear:  I may look and (mostly) sound like an American, but don't treat me like one of them.  Only in Cuba, where I spent a week in 1998, are you assumed to be Canadian until proven otherwise.  Cubans actually think it's cool and exotic to find a (US) American, instead of just another Canadian on a sodden holiday.

    I'm off to Canada in a few hours, to await my Toronto flight to Santiago.  And in a few weeks, Treasury Department willing, we'll be back in Toronto to catch the non-stop to Havana.  So maybe this month I'll be able to pick up more insight on Canada, Cuba and the like.

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