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Iraqis more secure, but few are finding jobs

Most jobs are in the military, police, and intelligence forces. But Iraqis say those jobs are only attained through family ties or bribes.

Tears of joy: Graduates of Baghdad's Nahrain University celebrated earlier this month. But their job prospects are poor, according to Iraqi economists.

Hadi Mizban/AP

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Out of a group of 125 graduates in the class of 2007 at Baghdad University's economics department, three landed ministry jobs and four enlisted in the Army. The rest are unemployed.

This year, the outlook for the 2,800 students graduating from the university's economics and business school is not much better. An estimated 1 percent will find jobs related to their fields, says Thaer al-Ani, an economics professor at the school.

As the security situation improves, polls show that Iraqis are more optimistic than they've been at any time since 2005. Oil revenues are sloshing into the government coffers, providing the government with a record $70 billion budget this year. Iraq's prime minister led a delegation to Europe last week and left with promises of new investment by several German firms. US military officials say they are now focused more on rebuilding than on combat.

Yet as promising as the broader economic trends appear, the view for most Iraqis hasn't improved much – if at all yet.

As the Baghdad University graduating class shows, most good jobs are found in the military, police, and intelligence forces. And many of those jobs are only attained through family ties or payoffs, say Iraqis interviewed.

"Our sole goal is to get a government job…. There aren't other ways for getting ahead," says Asfar Jihad surrounded by her classmates at Baghdad University on a recent morning.

"And the only way you achieve that: pull and connection or bribes," adds her friend Elaf Ahmed.


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