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Source: RFE/RL

Sep 19, 2023

Iranian Misery Index Hits New High As Unemployment, Inflation Rise

Iran's Misery Index, a calculation that combines unemployment and inflation rates, has risen to 60.4 percent, its highest point ever and more than double what it was six years ago.

The index, calculated by the Iranian Statistics Center and released on September 18, shows how the average citizen is faring economically.

The latest data, the center said, showed a 1.2 percentage point rise at the end of the first quarter, and in some provinces, such as Lorestan, the index reached almost 70 percent.

The index shows the depths to which Iran's economy has been ravaged by U.S. sanctions over Tehran's nuclear program.

In 2018, when then U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of a global deal on Iran's nuclear program and reintroduced sanctions on Tehran, the Misery Index stood at 38.9 percent.

In response to declining living standards, wage arrears, and a lack of welfare support, Iranians have taken to the streets to protest living conditions and demand government action.

In Lorestan, the province's annual inflation rate was reported at 57.1 percent for the month of June, making it one of the highest among Iran's 31 provinces. Meanwhile, Lorestan's unemployment rate was 12.4 percent, the second-highest nationally.

The Misery Index showed provinces such as Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari -- both of which had readings in the high 60s -- aren't lagging far behind. Sistan-Baluchistan, which has the highest unemployment rate in the country at 12.8 percent, was also hard hit, the index shows.

The Tehran-based Donya-e-Eqtesad newspaper cited experts who underscored the importance of the Misery Index in gauging stagflation within an economy.

The index is also seen as a barometer for societal issues, with a direct link to crime rates and even instances of suicide. The publication highlighted that in the past year, 22 of Iran's 31 provinces have reported a Misery Index surpassing the national average.

The death in September 2022 of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody for allegedly wearing a head scarf improperly has added fuel to the unrest, as Iranians demonstrate against a lack of freedoms and women's rights.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

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