Saudi unemployment rates rise to record highs

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Saudi Arabia’s unemployment rate rose to a record 12.9 percent in the first quarter of this year from 12.8 percent in the previous quarter, according to data released by the Saudi General Organization for Statistics on Thursday.

According to data released Thursday, the unemployment rate among male citizens was 7.6% and among females 30.9%.

Saudi Arabia’s overall unemployment rate (for Saudis and foreigners) rose to 6.1% in the first quarter of this year, from 6% in the fourth quarter of last year.

The number of employed persons in the Kingdom reached 13.33 million, of whom 10.18 million were foreigners (76.4%) and 3.15 million (23.6%).

The high unemployment rate comes despite government measures to increase the frequency of jobs in many economic sectors.

The Ministry of Economy aspires to reduce the unemployment rate among citizens to about 10.6% by 2020. In its Vision 2030, the Kingdom aims to reduce the unemployment rate to 7%.

The kingdom’s government is moving ahead with economic reforms to develop non-oil industries and create jobs, but tax increases and other austerity measures aimed at bridging the large budget deficit have negatively affected many employers in the private sector.