August 7, 2019 / 5:37 PM / 11 days ago

Morocco's Q2 unemployment rate drops to 8.5%

RABAT, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Morocco’s unemployment rate eased to 8.5% at the end of June from 9.1% percent a year earlier, the planning agency said on Wednesday, as heavy job losses in rural areas were offset by gains in urban centres.

Cities created 132,000 jobs while rural areas shed 125,000 due to a lower agricultural activity.

Farm incomes are volatile in the semi-arid north African country, hinging as they do on rainfall levels.

The Moroccan government is forecasting that a 23% drop in rainfall this year will halve the cereals harvest to 5.2 million tonnes this year from a year earlier.

Losses in the farm sector were outweighed by job creation in services and industry, however.

The under-employment rate dropped to 9% from 9.6% announced in June 2018. Informal labour abounds in Morocco, making it hard to produce reliable employment figures.

The planning agency, which is independent of the government, expects Morocco’s economic growth to slow to 2.7 percent in 2019 from 3 percent in 2018. (Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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