Saudi unemployment falls to 12.6% in fourth quarter of 2020

DUBAI, March 31 (Reuters) – Unemployment among Saudi citizens fell to 12.6% in the fourth quarter of 2020 from 14.9% in the third quarter, official data from the world’s biggest oil exporter showed on Wednesday.

The government has been pushing through economic reforms since 2016 to create millions of jobs and reduce unemployment to 7% by 2030. The plans were disrupted by the coronavirus crisis that sent oil prices plummeting last year.

The General Authority for Statistics said it “took a closer look at the group of Saudi unemployed in order to inform policy makers and the general public and to produce additional labor market indicators for Saudi Arabia.”

It said 93% of survey respondents said they would accept a job in the private sector, but many unemployed Saudis would reject jobs with long commutes.

Boosting private sector growth is at the centre of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 to diversify the Arab world’s largest economy away from oil and create jobs.

On Tuesday, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler and architect of Vision 2030, announced a programme for private sector companies to invest 5 trillion riyals ($1.3 trillion) in the local economy by 2030, with oil giant Aramco and its subsidiary SABIC contributing 60% of the total.

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