Saudi: Expat Workforce Shrinks As Local Unemployment Rate Drops

The number of expatriates working in Saudi Arabia reduced by close to 3% 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.

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.

READ  Saudisation: Over 1000 Labor Inspections Every Day

Overall, the total number of employees fell by 2.5% 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% in Q2 to 12.8% in Q3 with the “economic participation rate” of Saudis increasing to 56.4% compared to 56.2% in Q2.

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

The total number of Saudi job seekers decreased by 17% 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.

READ  Saudi Allocates $3.1 Billion To Help Companies With Expat Fee Hikes

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% value-added tax.

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.

Source: Gulf Business