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Employment among Saudi citizens rises above 50% mark

Saudi employment Creative Commons
Job creation for Saudi nationals – over 60% of whom are under 35 – is a top priority
  • Unemployment among citizens rose slightly in Q3
  • Females make up 37% of the Saudi labour force
  • The private sector is the pillar for employment growth

The participation rate of Saudi citizens in the labour market increased to 52.5 percent in Q3 from 49.8 percent in the same period last year, figures from the General Authority for Statistics showed.

The overall unemployment rate – which includes citizens and non-Saudi residents – remained unchanged at 5.8 percent, the data released on Thursday showed.

Unemployment among Saudi citizens saw a 0.2 percentage point rise in Q3 compared to the previous quarter, to stand at 9.9 percent.

However, this marks a fall in unemployment from 11.3 percent in the same period last year, reflecting a downward trend in unemployment among Saudis that is a key objective of the plans to transform the economy.

The overall unemployment rate includes non-Saudi residents in the kingdom who comprised just over a third of the total population in 2021, and the majority of whom need an employment contract to live there, as an expatriate.

Job creation, especially for Saudi nationals – over 60 percent of whom are under the age of 35 – is a top priority for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the country’s Vision 2030 economic transformation plan to diversify income sources.

Workforce participation among female citizens is also on the rise. Unemployment in this category fell to 20.5 percent in Q3 from 21.9 percent in the year-ago period, making up 37 percent of the Saudi labour force.

Expansion of the private sector is a key pillar of the government strategy, with a wide-ranging programme of privatisations and other government-supported initiatives to spur growth.

The latest data showed that 93.3 percent of unemployed Saudis would accept jobs in the private sector. Historically, the public sector has been the principal employer of citizens in Saudi Arabia.