Saudi Arabia

Unemployment Rate Drops as 1.6 Million Expats Leave Saudi Arabia

Unemployment among Saudis declined slightly to 12.7 per cent by the end of 2018 from 12.8 per cent in 2017, according to the latest General Authority for Statistics (Gastat) labor market release for Q4 2018.

Total youth unemployment (20-24 years old) has declined notably, from 42.7 per cent in 2017 to 36.6 per cent in 2018.

Female labour force participation continued to rise, reaching 20.2 per cent in 2018, up from 19.4 per cent in 2017.

Saudisation in the private sector rose in 2018 to 21.8 per cent, up from 19.9 per cent in 2017.

The data shows that the total number of foreigners in the Saudi labor market declined by around 1.6 million since the start of 2017, with around one million leaving the market during 2018.

The data show that all sectors saw a drop in the number of foreign workers. The largest declines were seen in construction which saw 910,000 foreign and 41,000 Saudi departures.

At the same time, five sectors saw an increase in the number of Saudi workers during 2018, compared to 2017.

In 2018, the Ministry of Labor (MLSD), in collaboration with the Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF), laid out three stages of Saudisation relating specifically to the retail (or trade) sector, added to a number of new initiatives during 2019, which are likely to have had a positive impact on the labour market.