Gaza border fence june 5 2011
Palestinians wait to cross into Egypt at the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip June 5, 2011. Photo by Reuters
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The unemployment rate in Gaza remains among the highest in the world in the second half of 2010, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said on Tuesday.

The study conducted by the organization said that over 45.2 percent of the working-age people in the coastal enclave were unemployed, a slight improvement from the 45.7 percent of unemployed in the parallel period in 2009.

Employment declined by about 2.9 percent in the second half of 2010, relative to the first half, dropping more than 5,900 jobs to 190,365.

Meanwhile, according to the report the average nominal daily wage rose about 2.3 percent to NIS 58.8, while the refugee labor force participation continued to decline, as did the private sector, which dropped by 8 percent. Yet non-refugees employment rates rose in the year-on-year comparison, the report found.

According to the study, the employment in the Hamas government sector remained high, with over 53% of all employed refugees working in the public sector.

The estimated average Gaza refugee working-age population was estimated at 575,900 people.

"These are disturbing trends and the refugees, who make up two-thirds of Gaza's 1.5 million population, were the worst hit," UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said of the report in a statement.

"If the aim of the blockade policy was to weaken the Hamas administration, the public employment numbers suggest this has failed," Gunness added.

Israel enforced a blockade on the Gaza Strip following the election of Hamas to power in January 2006, and the abduction of Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, who is assumed to be held in Strip.