Saudi expat workforce shrinks in Q3 as local unemployment rate drops
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Saudi expat workforce shrinks in Q3 as local unemployment rate drops

Saudi expat workforce shrinks in Q3 as local unemployment rate drops

The number of expats working in the kingdom reduced from 10.18 million in Q1 to 9.5 million in Q3


The number of expatriates working in Saudi Arabia reduced by close to 3 per cent to over 9.5 million in the third quarter of 2018, compared to the previous quarter, according to official data.

Research by the General Statistics Authority (GASTA) found that the number of employed expatriates fell from over 9.8 million in the second quarter to over 9.5 million in Q3. That’s down from 10.18 million in the first quarter.

Read: Saudi unemployment steady in Q2, foreign labour force down 290,000

While the number of male employees fell by 304,972 to reach 8.6 million during the period, the number of expat women working in the kingdom rose by 9,696 to reach 964,861 persons in Q3, the report said.

The total number of Saudi employees also reduced marginally – by less than 1 per cent to 3,109,987 in Q3 compared to 3,125,343 in the previous quarter, the report found.

Overall, the total number of employees fell by 2.5 per cent quarter-on-quarter in Q3 to over 12.68 million.

However, the unemployment rate among Saudi citizens (15 years and over) dropped from 12.9 per cent in Q2 to 12.8 per cent in Q3 with the “economic participation rate” of Saudis increasing to 56.4 per cent compared to 56.2 per cent in Q2.

The unemployment rate of Saudi women decreased to 30.9 per cent compared to 31.1 per cent in Q2 while that of men decreased to 7.5 per cent from 7.6 per cent.

The total number of Saudi jobseekers decreased by 17 per cent in Q3 to reach 923,504 compared to over 1.1 million in Q2.

New Saudisation rules in the kingdom – particularly in the wholesale and retail sector – have seen hundreds of thousands of legal foreign workers leave the country in recent months.

The cost of living in the kingdom has also risen due to a new dependents fees, higher fuel and electricity prices and the introduction of a 5 per cent value added tax.

Also read: Saudi landlords go to court after several expats ‘shut shop’ and leave

Since November 2012, the kingdom has charged SAR200 ($53) a month for each foreign worker at private sector companies where the number of expatriates exceeds Saudis.

This fee increased to SAR300-400 ($80-$107) per foreign worker in 2018 and will rise to SAR700-800 ($187-$213) by 2020.

More recently, the country has imposed job restrictions in 12 retail roles as part of which those facilities will have to ensure that at least 70 per cent of their staff are Saudi nationals.

Read more: Saudi to apply job restrictions for expats in five retail roles this week


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