Unemployment among Saudi males is set to rise to 15 percent this year, challenging the kingdom's economy, a report by the Saudi American Bank (Samba) said, cited by AFP Monday.
"We estimate that unemployment among Saudi males stands at 14 percent," said the report, drawn up by its chief economist Brad Bourland, who predicted a one-percent increase in 2001.
"Higher growth in the private sector, increased government hiring, and Saudization (nationalization of the work force) do not create enough new jobs to absorb all of the over 100,000 new entrants to the labor market," the report said.
"Unemployment remains the most important challenge for the Saudi economy."
Samba explained that its figures related to male job seekers because women "do not enter the labor market in large numbers" in the kingdom, where female workers are restricted mostly to the education and nursing sectors, AFP said.
The current figure for unemployed Saudis stands at 360,000, according to the country's Manpower Council, said the agency.
The government aims to create employment for an additional 817,300 Saudis over the next five years through Saudization: replacing foreign employees with locals, and the creation of new jobs, according to AFP.
According to a survey published by Saudi-online in November 2000, there was a “resistance to employ Saudi citizens in small businesses as employers preferred cheaper expatriates.”
A policy allowing companies with less than 20 people has to be changed to cut unemployment “which has jumped from 12 to 27 percent in the past five years,” said the online news service -- Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )