Employment rates for Syrian refugees in the KR-I appear, on average, to be higher than for displaced Iraqis and impacted communities. For example, in Erbil governorate 80% of male refugees aged between 15 and 64 are employed. This compares with rates of 53% for male IDPs and 70% for men from the host community. In Dohuk governorate, the employment rate for male refugees is 75%, compared with 63% for men from the host community and internally displaced men.
However, such figures should not be read to mean that refugees in general have more financial security than IDPs. Refugees do not have the benefit of access to elements of Iraqi state support that many IDPs do, such as grants made to displaced families, the Public Distribution System, and salaries for those with public sector jobs (which generally continue to be received, despite displacement). Reported figures for employment are based on samples and household surveys, and probably obscure under-employment.
The livelihoods vulnerabilities of Syrian refugees and impacted communities in Iraq in 2017 and beyond are multiple. If livelihoods opportunities do not improve, the debt vulnerability of refugees is likely to increase. Already, in 2015 and 2016, the largest share of refugees’ average personal debt was incurred for domestic consumption costs, rather than the purchase of long-term assets as was the case for impacted communities.
Compared with impacted communities and IDPs, refugees are still particularly vulnerable to exploitative and abusive employment practices. The very low levels of enrolment for refugees in secondary education limit the employment prospects of these refugees joining the workforce.
For many refugees, the types of employment they find are low-paying and insecure. Half of employed refugees and IDPs in Dohuk governorate work in construction, and daily waged labor in agriculture is the second most common job for refugees and IDPs. Beyond the present, there are risks and challenges for the coming years, regarding jobs and livelihoods for refugees and impacted communities. There is the risk that refugees become locked into a cycle of inferior access to services and inferior work and life opportunities. At the same time, there is the risk that resentment towards refugees and IDPs alike will increase, encouraged by erroneous and unchallenged assumptions about the capacity of the labor market to absorb new workers and grow.
The statistics shows that the income rate of the Syrian refuges who lives in the urban areas are lower than the ones of IDPs and the Host communities. A large portion of their income is going for rent for houses and apartments. It is not easy for many of Syrian refugees to find a job-opportunity to provide them with sufficient income to cover their living expenses.