(MENAFN) According to the General Authority for Statistics’ labor force survey, the unemployment rate among Saudis dropped to its lowest level since records began in 1991. The rate fell from 9.9 percent in the previous three months to 8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022. The Kingdom has set itself a target unemployment rate of 7 percent by 2030. The overall employment rate, which includes non-citizens, also decreased from 5.8 percent in the previous quarter to 4.8 percent in the final three months of 2022.
The decrease in the unemployment rate can be attributed to a double effect of the decrease in labor force participation and employment growth. Foreign residents of the Kingdom, who comprised just over a third of the total population in 2021, are also included in the overall unemployment rate. Job creation for Saudi nationals is a crucial part of Vision 2030, a comprehensive economic agenda aimed at reducing reliance on oil, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Over 60 percent of Saudis are under the age of 35, making job creation a priority.
The unemployment rate among Saudi women dropped to 15.4 percent in the final quarter of 2022 from 20.5 percent in the previous quarter. However, their labor force participation rate decreased by 1 percentage point to 36 percent. The labor force participation rate and the employment-to-population ratio of Saudi males increased to 65.7 percent and 68.5 percent, respectively.
Expansion of the non-oil private sector is a vital component of Vision 2030, with a broad range of government-supported initiatives and privatizations aimed at promoting growth. The latest data shows that 94.1 percent of unemployed Saudis would accept jobs in the private sector, which is slightly higher than in the third quarter of 2022. The public sector has traditionally been the primary employer of Saudi citizens. Additionally, 57.8 percent of unemployed Saudi females and 43.6 percent of unemployed Saudi males would accept a maximum commuting time to work of one hour. Similarly, 73 percent of unemployed Saudi females and 89.1 percent of unemployed Saudi males indicated they would accept work for eight hours or more per day.
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