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1.8 million expats have left Saudi Arabia's labour market since Q1'17

Roughly 185,000 foreigners, excluding domestic help, left the kingdom's labour market in the first three months of 2019

1.8 million expats have exited the Saudi labour market since Q1'17.
1.8 million expats have exited the Saudi labour market since Q1'17.

The number of foreigners Saudi Arabia's labour market has declined by 1.8 million since the start of 2017, with around 185,000 expats, excluding domestic help, leaving in Q1 2019 alone, data from the kingdom’s General Authority for Statistics (Gastat) has shown.

According to Gastat statistics, as cited in Jadwa Investment’s Saudi Laboour Market Update Q1 2019 report, the number of foreign workers – excluding domestic workers – leaving on a quarterly basis slowed to its lowest level since Q3 2017.

The number of departures peaked again in Q2 2018, but has since decelerated.

Unemployment in Saudi Arabia fell to 12.5% from 12.7% in Q4 2018 to reach its lowest level since Q4 2016.

While male unemployment remained unchanged at 6.6%, the number of unemployed women was down from 32.5% to 31.7% during the period.

The figures come amid concerted efforts by the Saudi Arabian Government to increase the number of locals working in the labour market as part of its Vision 2030 transformation agenda.

Jadwa Investment's report explains: “Higher labour force participation came as a result of the [Saudi Ministry of Labour and Social Development] introducing several measures to support hiring Saudis in the private sector.”

The government department, which is heading up the kingdom’s Saudisation agenda, announced the employment of 64,000 nationals between January and April 2019.

Jadwa said this number came through a “number of agreements with public and private entities in sectors such as real estate, housing, and information technology.”

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