Credit Bloombergby Kudakwashe Muzoriwa
Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Statistics unemployment among Saudi nationals dropped to 12 per cent in Q3 2019 from 12.3 per cent in the previous quarter, moving further away from a record high of around 13 per cent in 2018.
Saudi Arabia’s unemployment data shows that the economic reforms introduced by the Kingdom over the last three years are starting to bear fruit, although Riyadh's target to reduce unemployment to nine per cent by 2022 still looks ambitious.
Reuters reported that the Kingdom has struggled for years to create jobs for Saudi nationals. Private sector companies have typically relied on cheap foreign labour and the state education system has prepared students poorly for the market. Additionally, many Saudis prefer higher-paying public sector jobs.
Until now, improvements in employment had continued to lag a rebound in non-oil growth this year, partly a reflection of persistent weaknesses in business confidence, worsened by a string of fiscal reforms such as new taxes and fees.
Joblessness among nationals has held around 12 per cent for the past three years, testing the patience of young Saudis entering the labour market. The private sector has continued to shed Saudi jobs even as droves of foreigners have left, pushed out by the weaker economy and official policies that encourage or require businesses to hire locals.