RABAT, May 5 (Reuters) - Morocco’s unemployment rate eased to 10 percent at the end of March from 10.5 percent a year earlier as hefty job losses in the farming sector were outweighed by gains elsewhere, the planning agency said on Sunday.
Agriculture and fisheries shed 152,000 jobs over the year to March. Farm incomes are volatile in the semi-arid north African country, hinging on rainfall levels.
The Moroccan government is forecasting that a 23 percent drop in rainfall this year will shrink the cereal harvest by more than 40 percent to 6.1 million tonnes.
The job losses in the farming sector were offset by the creation of 144,000 jobs in services, 4,000 in industry and 19,000 in construction.
The North African country has seen protests in recent years over unemployment, notably in the northern Rif region and eastern mining town of Jerrada.
Informal labour abounds in Morocco, making it hard to produce reliable employment figures.
The planning agency, which is independent of the government, expects Morocco’s economic growth to slow to 2.9 percent in 2019 from 3 percent in 2018. The government expects the economy to grow 3.2 percent this year. (Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi; Editing by Jan Harvey)