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Saudi Arabia unemployment fell in Q4 2023

A Saudi woman works inside the first all-female call centre in the kingdom's security sector, in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 29, 2017. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem Suhaib Salem/Reuters
Saudi Arabia's unemployment rate among women fell to 13.7 percent from 15.4 percent
  • Jobless at 7.7% from 8% in 2022
  • Fall reflects growth in non-oil sectors
  • Job seekers rely on word of mouth

Unemployment among Saudi Arabian nationals fell to 7.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2023, from 8 percent during the same period in 2022, the government said this week, reflecting the growth of the non-oil sector despite an economic contraction. 

Unemployment among Saudi males was 4.6 percent, which was up from 4.2 percent the year before, but among women it fell to 13.7 percent from 15.4 percent, the General Authority for Statistics said in its latest published survey. 

The Saudi economy shrank by 0.8 percent last year, as the government implemented Opec+ oil production cuts in an effort to prop up global oil prices. But growth in the non-oil sector meant it hit 50 percent of GDP for the first time. 

The employment report said Saudis were still primarily using word of mouth to search for jobs, as well as direct applications and a national employment platform called Jadarat, where employers advertise public and private sector jobs and Saudis can upload professional profiles. 

Cutting unemployment among Saudis, including women, is one of the prime goals of the massive socioeconomic transformation plan introduced in 2016. The last census in 2022 found Saudis formed 58 percent of a total 32 million population. 

Closing the gender employment gap could add 57 percent to the GDP of the Middle East and North Africa, or $2 trillion, PwC Middle East said in a study last year. 

Despite the fall in unemployment, female participation in the Saudi labour force fell slightly over the year, from 36 percent to 35.5 percent, the statistics authority said.

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