ERBIL, Kurdistan Region— The unemployment rate in the Kurdish province of Sanandaj, in western Iran, is at its highest level for more than a decade as it surpassed 60 percent this year, according to a Kurdish Member of the Iranian Parliament Mansour Moradi.
Moradi said the high unemployment levels have had a profound impact on living standards in Kurdish regions bordering Iraq in the west.
Iran’s Minister of Employment Ali Rabiei who was visiting Sanandaj, aslo called Sna in Kurdish, on Friday said the government will develop strategic plans to counter unemployment.
“There is an earmarked budget to create jobs in the next year and bordering provinces will be prioritised in the government’s overall goals,” said minister Rabies in a bid to meet the mounting criticism facing President Hassan Rouhani’s reelection.
Sanandaj city council representatives who met with Rabiei told Iranian media that the minister’s visit was “part of the campaign to reelect” the president.
Rouhani’s aides have said he will run for a second term in office in May’s elections, representing what many view as the moderate forces in the country.
Official statics have in the past put the unemployment rates in Sanandaj at around 13 percent, a figure widely contested by members of the parliament representing the vast areas in the province.
Lawmaker Mohsen Biglari said last November that the jobless rates were around 50 percent.
Sanandaj’s representatives in the Iranian Majles (parliament) have said leaving the unemployment issue unsolved, will create larger financial difficulties in a region already affected by the lack of sufficient investments.
In 2016, Iran's unemployment rate was estimated to amount to 11.5 percent of the total labor force. Iran's unemployment rate has been above 10 percent for the last 10 years, and this rate is estimated to have peaked in 2014 following severe US sanctions.