Saudi Arabia’s female labour force participation rate increased from 17.4% in Q1 2017 to 19.5% at the end of Q1 2018.
The change may be linked to a fall in the number of expatriate workers in the country – around 800,000 are estimated to have left Saudi Arabia between the start of 2017 and the end of Q1 2018.
Despite the increase in female participation, unemployment in Saudi Arabia rose slightly to reach 12.9% at the end of Q1 2018, up from 12.8% at the end of 2017.
Two new developments may help to set unemployment on a new downward curve.
From September 2018, 12 retail sectors will have to be 100% Saudised, although Jadwa Investment believes the quota is under review and may be reduced to 70%.
Another factor is the decision, effective from June 24, to allow women to drive in Saudi Arabia.
Jadwa Investment says that while it will be challenging to create new employment opportunities for the 230,000 Saudi nationals graduating each year, “a new group of jobs are anticipated to be created as the local economy is seeking new opportunities, through attracting foreign investments in various sectors, and supporting a number of local sectors, such as tourism and entertainment, and non-oil manufacturing”.