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Saudi Economy Shrank 7%, Unemployment at Record as Virus Hit

  • Citizen jobless rate rose to 15.4% despite salary support plan
  • Austerity measures could slow recovery for non-oil sector
Lights illuminate highways near the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh.

Lights illuminate highways near the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh.

Photographer: Maya Anwar/Bloomberg
Updated on

Saudi Arabia’s economy contracted 7% in the second quarter from a year earlier as citizen unemployment hit its highest level on record, illustrating the damage wrought by the oil market turmoil combined with the coronavirus pandemic.

The oil sector shrank an annual 5.3%, while the non-oil sector declined by 8.2%, according to data released on Wednesday by the statistics authority. The non-oil private sector -- the engine of job creation -- contracted by more than 10%. Labor statistics released at the same time showed that citizen unemployment rose to 15.4% during April to June, the highest level recorded in data that goes back two decades. That, despite a government stimulus program that covered 60% of salaries for many Saudi workers.