Rabat – Unemployment has risen again in the first three months of the current year, according to the High Commission for Planning’s (HCP) labor market figures for the first quarter of 2017.The HCP figures show the increase of the national unemployment rate from 10.4 percent to 10.7 percent between the first quarter of 2016 and that of 2017. The number of unemployed individuals rose from 1,233,000 to 1,296,000 people between the two periods, marking an increase of 63,000 people registered exclusively in urban areas. According to the note, this rate increased from 15 percent to 15.7 percent in urban areas and from 4.2 percent to 4.1 percent in rural ones, adding that the highest unemployment rate is recorded among young people aged 15 to 24, with 25.5 percent, and adults aged 25 to 34 with 16.6 percent. From the first quarter of 2016 to the same period of 2017, the Moroccan economy saw the creation of 109,000 jobs, with 62,000 posts in urban areas and 47,000 in rural ones, compared to a loss of 13,000 jobs a year earlier, reports the HCP.The services sector created 45,000 jobs, agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors 28,000 jobs, construction and public works 20,000 jobs, while industry including artisanat created 16,000 posts. However, these figures remain insufficient to reverse the curve of unemployment which continues on an upward trend.Increase of UnderemploymentThe note of the HCP also showed a slight increase in underemployment, with the underemployed population reaching 1,057,000 individuals, marking a growth rate of 0.1 percent compared to the first quarter of 2016, rising from 9.7 percent to 9.8 percent at the national level.From the first quarter of 2016 to that of 2017, the labor force aged 15 years and over increased by 1.4 percent at the national level, reaching 12,062,000 individual, with a 1.8 percent increase in urban areas and 0.9 percent in rural ones. As for the population of working age, it showed a 1.7 percent increase. As a result, the participation rate continues to decline from 47.6 percent to 47.5 percent between the two periods.By gender, the rate of underemployment reached 11.1 percent among men, with 9.4 percent in urban areas compared to 13.5 percent in rural ones, and 5.7 percent among women, with 9.8 percent in urban areas versus 2.8 percent in rural ones, noting that the HCP indicators also include unpaid employment.In conclusion, the number of paid jobs has risen to 86,000, with 57,000 in urban areas and 29,000 in rural ones, while unpaid employment posts are estimated at 23,000, with 18,000 in rural areas and 5,000 in urban ones.Difficult Mission for the New Government? The HCP grave figures concerning unemployment in Morocco rise another serious question: will Saad Eddine El Othmani’s new government be able to keep its promise? As soon as the new government assumed power, El Othmani promised to reduce the unemployment rate from 10 percent to 8 percent by the end of his term. No easy feast since he’ll have to bring down the current rate by almost three points in just five years. El Othmani’s government is counting on the implementation of the new 2025 Employment Strategy, which it’s intending to merge with the various existing sectoral strategies. The government will also have to the Ministerial Commission in charge of monitoring the implementation of the 2015-2025 National Employment Strategy, while evaluating the overall of employment promotion programs. Moreover, the Executive also promised to review the functioning of the National Agency for the Promotion of Employment and Skills (Anapec) and private sector mediation institutions.