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Sun 27 Sep 2009 08:38 AM

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Saudi unemployment set to ease in next five years

Unemployed rate set to fall to 7.1% by 2014 as kingdom embarks on jobs action plan.

Saudi Arabia's unemployment rate could ease within five years as the world's oil powerhouse embarks on an action plan to find jobs for its citizens, a report by the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry has predicted.

Unemployment in the kingdom stood at nearly 10.5 percent at the end of 2008 but it is expected to fall to 7.1 percent at the end of 2014, said the report, which added that development plan for 2010-14 would be sufficient to create jobs for hundreds of thousands of Saudis.

Its figures showed demand for labour, mainly Saudi, would surge from around 7.97 million at the end of 2008 to 9.1 million workers at the end of 2013, Emirates Business reported on Sunday.

"Saudi labour covered around 47.8 percent of the total workforce in 2008… the share is projected to surge to 54.1 per cent in 2014. This means the number of unemployed Saudis will be around 418,000 in 2014 or nearly 7.1 per cent compared with 10.5 per cent at the end of 2008," the study said.

"We believe these are good indications of the continuation of the economic development process in the country and the fact that unemployment is declining."

Figures showed the total number of jobless people in Saudi Arabia stood at about 437,000 at the end of 2008, including 256,000 men. Independent estimates believe the number is far higher and some of them put the unemployment rate in the kingdom at as high as 20 percent last year, the paper reported.

In 2009, the sharp decline in oil prices will ally with high population growth and poor economic performance to depress Saudi Arabia's personal wealth after surging to its highest ever level in 2008, according to independent forecasts. Its GDP per capita income is projected to dive to SR55,220 in 2009 before rebounding in 2010, the Riyadh-based Jadwa Investment company said.

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