Overall unemployment rate in Saudi Arabia fell to 4.4% in Q4 2023, down 0.7% from the same period last year. For Saudi nationals, the rate fell to 7.7% in Q4, a shade lower compared with the year-ago period.

Among Saudi females, the unemployment rate fell 2.6 basis points to 13.7% in Q4, compared with the previous quarter, according to new data released by the General Authority for Statistics (GASTAT) on Thursday.

However, labour force participation rate among women also fell slightly from the previous quarter to 35.5%. This bucks the recent trend of higher participation that followed unprecedented reforms in laws and regulations relating to them in a bid to grow the non-oil economy.

According to GASTAT,  among Saudi males, the unemployment rate was unchanged at the level of 4.6%. Labor force participation rate among Saudi males fell slightly to 66.6%.

Among Saudi male youth (15-24 years), the labour participation rate fell to 35.5% and while the unemployment rate edged higher to 13.8%.

The GASTAT also quoted a survey which showed that 94.9% of unemployed Saudis would accept work in the private sector.

Meanwhile, 62.1% of unemployed Saudi females and 43.8% of unemployed Saudi males would accept a maximum commuting time to work of one hour.

Similarly, 80.1% of unemployed Saudi females and 91.0% of unemployed Saudi males indicated that they would accept work for eight hours or more per day

Saudi Arabia's economy is widely expected to rebound in 2024 from a 0.8% contraction in 2023 with growth driven by the non-oil sector. The hydrocarbon activities, which account for about 40% of total GDP, will continue albeit constrained by production cuts.  

(Writing by Brinda Darasha; editing by Seban Scaria)