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Azerbaijan: Unemployment Rises as Economy Teeters

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev tours a greenhouse complex owned by Azersun Holding in the Khazar district of Baku in July 2012. The devaluation of the Azerbaijani manat last December has forced many companies to cut jobs, including businesses in agriculture, banking, energy, and telecommunications. (Photo: Azeri Presidential Press Service)

Falling oil prices and a recent currency devaluation are spurring businesses to lay off workers in Azerbaijan. But, in a sign of the political sensitivity of the country’s economic downtown, some companies are keeping unemployment numbers under wraps.
 
Azerbaijan’s sudden economic plunge is forcing cuts at all kinds of enterprises, across all sectors. The list of government-connected entities that have announced layoffs include Azerenerji, the country’s largest electrical power utility; the gas-distribution network Azerigas, part of the state-run, generally cash-rich SOCAR energy company; and mobile phone operator Azercell.
 
In addition, seven private banks have closed over the past month after the Central Bank revoked their licenses. Culture and Tourism Minister Abulfas Garayev has even announced that “several museums will be closed because of ineffectiveness,” and warned that cultural organizations that receive government support, but post low “earnings” will be shut down.
 

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Durna Safarova is a freelance journalist who covers Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan: Unemployment Rises as Economy Teeters

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