20110131 egypt anti government protesters 18
A man holds a placard in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt. Cairo remained in a state of flux and marchers continued to protest in the streets and defy curfew, demanding the resignation of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarek. - 


JEREMY HOBSON: It's already early afternoon in Cairo, and the huge anti-government protests continue. Many of the people calling for change are under 30. Some are recent college graduates disenchanted with Egypt's economy and the growing gap there between rich and poor.

Marketplace's Scott Tong has more now on the economic factors behind the movement.

SCOTT TONG: On paper, Egypt's economy's growing at a nice 5 percent clip, and opening up to the free market. Big government is shrinking, foreign investors keep coming. But on the street, inflation is 12 percent. And Georgetown University's Samer Shehata says the "vast majority" of Egyptians aren't keeping up. And it's across the Arab world. Case in point: the young vendor in Tunisia who set himself on fire last month and died.

SAMER SHEHATA: The gentleman who set all of this off, the 26-year-old high school graduate who resorted to selling fruits and vegetables in a stand, he is symptomatic of the condition of millions of people in the Arab world.

Millions who believe the riches have gone to a select few. Shehata estimates unemployment among new college grads is 30 percent. They're turned off by the notion of market economy.

SHEHATA: And I think what we're going to see in the future is less enthusiasm, if not some hostility, toward these kinds of policies.

For the moment, the situation for young people may get even worse. Many are employed in the tourism industry, which for now is standing still.

In Washington I'm Scott Tong for Marketplace.

Follow Scott Tong at @tongscott