PARIS, France – Unemployment in Saudi Arabia among citizens increased to 9.9% in the third quarter, up 0.2. percentage points from the previous quarter but the overall unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.9 percent, data released on Thursday showed.
The rate of joblessness among citizens fell from 11.3% in the same period last year, however, reflecting a downward trend in unemployment among Saudis which is a key objective of the crown prince’s plans to transform the economy.
The overall unemployment rate includes non – Saudis 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% 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.
The participation rate of Saudi citizens in the labour market increased to 52.5 percent in Q3 from 49.8 percent in the year-ago period, figures from the General Authority for Statistics showed.
Workforce participation among female citizens is also on the rise. Unemployment in this category fell to 20.5% in Q3 from 21.9% in the year-ago period, making up 37% of the Saudi labour force.
Expansion of the private sector is a key pillar of the government strategy, with a wide-ranging programme of privatisation and other government-supported initiatives to spur growth.
The latest data showed that 93.% of unemployed Saudis would accept jobs in the private sector. Historically, the public sector has been the principal employer of citizens in Saudi Arabia.