In an economy severely depressed for most of the past decade, developments in the first half of 2011 provided some marginal relief. The Gaza labour market in first-half 2011 was characterized by relatively significant growth in employment and an equally significant decline in unemployment relative to the same period in 2010. Total employment grew by 21 percent in the year-on-year comparison, with about 41,270 more people working, with refugees accounting for about half this growth. While the public sector continued to expand employment—particularly among non-refugees—private sector employment grew by more than 50 percent, accounting for the vast bulk of growth. Construction, commerce and agriculture accounted for more than 70 percent of all new job opportunities in this period.
The broad refugee labour force participation rate continued to decline, albeit at a slower rate, and averaged 37.2 percent while that of non-refugees rose to 46.4 percent in the first half of 2011. Both refugees and non-refugees made employment gains with non-refugee experiencing both more rapid growth and more rapid reductions in unemployment. On the other hand, real wage gains were greater for refugees in this period. The broad refugee unemployment rate fell from 41 percent in first-half 2010 to 33.8 percent in first-half 2011. In the same period broad unemployment for non-refugees declined from 43.7 percent to 31.6 percent.