Saudi Arabia sees surge in women joining workforce in Q1 despite COVID-19

More Saudi Arabian women were employed in the first quarter of 2021 than in the previous quarter, continuing a recent trend in spite of the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to job losses globally.

According to new data released by the General Authority for Statistics on Wednesday, the labor force participation rate of the total female working age population increased during the first quarter of 2021 to reach 33.6 percent, compared to 32.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Unemployment rate among Saudi Arabia’s working age populations (including non-Saudis) fell to 6.5 percent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to 7.4 percent during the last quarter of 2020, new data showed.

The unemployment rate for all Saudi males and females, 15 years and above, fell to 11.7 percent in the first quarter of 2021, compared to 12.6 percent in the previous quarter.  The unemployment rate of Saudi females also fell to 21.2 percent during the first quarter, compared to 24.4 percent in the previous quarter. For Saudi males, however the rate was a shade higher at 7.2 percent compared to 7.1 percent in the previous quarter.

The unemployment rate of total male working age population in the kingdom also fell in the period to 3.7 percent compared to 4 percent in the previous quarter.

For all females, the rate fell from 20.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020 to 16.1 percent in the first quarter of this year.

Saudis’ total unemployment rate is 0.1 pp lower than in the same period of the previous year, below its pre-COVID level.

Raising female participation in the work force is one of the objectives under the Saudi Vision 2030. The government targeted an increase in the female labor force participation rate to 30 percent by 2030, which has already been surpassed.

According to a recent Moody’s report, generating new employment opportunities for Saudi nationals, particularly for Saudi women, will likely be a key economic benefit of greater progress on the diversification agenda in the medium term.

This will also be a key credit benefit for the sovereign, reducing fiscal pressures on the government to provide employment and social support for the nationals.




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