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Saudi private sector leads surge in female employment, study shows

Published 25 Apr,2021 via Arab News - Economy DUBAI - The Saudi private sector is hiring women at twice the rate of the public sector, a new study reveals.

Between the beginning of 2019 and the end of 2020, Saudi women in the labor market grew by 64 percent, as the Kingdom underwent several social reforms, particularly for its female population.

The study, commissioned by US think tank Brookings Institute, showed the surge was “genuine, private-sector-led,” as female employment in these sectors rose by about 10 percent, twice as quickly as in the public sector, where it grew 5 percent.

As of the end of 2020, the labor participation rate of Saudi women stood at 33 percent from just 20 percent in late 2018.

The study also noted a trend in Saudi women joining labor-intensive sectors including construction, manufacturing, and food and accommodation where the rate all grew considerably.

Women of all ages were participating in this increased activity, but the largest growth was from among Saudi women between the ages of 40 and 54.

These women would find jobs faster than normal pace, the Brookings report said, so the inflow of Saudi women “did not translate into more unemployment.”

“The employment rate—the share of the labor force that has a job—of Saudi women has been steadily increasing from 68 to 76 percent between the end of 2018 and 2020; and the female unemployment rate has decreased, from 32 to 24 percent,” the report showed.

This upward momentum for Saudi women in the labor force is part of wider campaigns for the Kingdom’s female population, outlined in its ambitious Vision 2030 roadmap.

In fact, Saudi Arabia emerged as a top performer in the World Bank’s Women, Business, and the Law Report 2021.

Other recent reforms included allowing women to drive, as well as changes in guardianship laws.

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