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Saudi unemployment rate is ‘exaggerated’
January 9, 2014, 10:17 am
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The president of Asharqia Chamber downplayed the unemployment rate among Saudis and said 1.6 million citizens have been employed in the private sector with total salaries amounting to SR80 billion annually.

“A few months ago when we conducted an interview for 800 jobs, we noticed that 90 percent of some 7,000 applicants were already employed and they came seeking better jobs,” said Abdul Rahman Al-Rashid.

“There are more than 1.6 million citizens registered with the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI) as private sector employees with annual salaries reaching SR80 billion,” Al-Rashid said dismissing reports that the private sector had insufficient numbers of Saudi employees.

In comments published on Al-Arabiya news channel’s website, Al-Rashid said most Saudis are not qualified to fill the jobs currently occupied by expats. There are more than seven million foreign workers registered with GOSI.

“A good number of Saudi job seekers do not possess a university degree,” the Asharqia chief said. “Many of them prefer to have their own enterprises.” Al-Rashid disputed findings that salaries offered by private companies were lower than that of government departments, a fact which encourages Saudis to look for government jobs rather than in the private sector.

“I believe that the salary offered by the public and private sectors to candidates having the same qualifications is equal. A job seeker with an intermediate education would not get a good salary in the public sector either,” he said.

The Labor Ministry has instructed private companies to provide a minimum salary of SR3,000 to Saudi employees. Al-Rashid said the unemployment rate among the Saudis is exaggerated and most reports in this respect are not based on correct statistics.

According to the Civil Affairs Ministry, there are 1.2 million Saudis working in the public sector with women accounting for 38.3 percent. The number of non-Saudis working in the public sector reached 73,827 by the end of 2013. Most of them are in the health sector while many others are in the general education and higher education sectors.

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