In Saudi Arabia, the unemployment rate fell to 11.7% in the first quarter of 2021, down from 12.6% at the end of 2020, official data released by the General Authority for Statistics indicated on Wednesday, according to Reuters. This is evaluated as one of the signs of the recovery of Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, after last year’s harsh contraction amidst the fall in oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saudi Arabia has been implementing economic reforms since 2016 in order to create millions of jobs and cut unemployment to 7% by 2030 under the Vision 2030 project, led by Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salma. However, the COVID-19 outbreak disrupted those plans and unemployment reached a new high of 15.4% in the second quarter of 2020.
In the first quarter of 2021, the overall Saudi unemployment rate decreased to 11.7% compared to 12.6% in the last quarter of 2020, reaching a level below pre-pandemic,” the General Authority for Statistics announced.
According to the International Monetary Fund, the Saudi economy is expected to grow by 2.1% this year after contracting by 4.1% in 2020.
The real gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 0.5 percent in the first quarter, owing primarily to a decrease in the oil sector, which reflects the Kingdom’s voluntary oil output cuts. However, the non-oil economy expanded by 4.9% in the last three months of last year, owing to a 6.3% increase in the private sector.
According to London-based Capital Economic, economic activities in the Kingdom will increase further to about 3.5% quarter-on-quarter growth in this year’s second quarter.