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Employment Grows Quicker in Kuwait Reaching 6.8 Percent in First Half of the Year

Kuwait : 30 November 2010

Job Growth is Fastest in Private Sector

According to the National Bank of Kuwait’s most recent brief, employment has sped up in the nation during the first half of the year.  Expat workers have been the main drive.  Jobs for Kuwait nationals have grown moderately from 2009, moving at a decent pace.

Faster growth in the nation’s population has also displayed this trend, after being in decline only one year ago.  A rise in both population and employment are forecasted as the economy goes into post-crisis recovery mode and companies boost hiring in the coming months.

As reported by PACI (Public Authority for Civil Information), the labour force in Kuwait numbered 2.13 million by the close of June this year.  That means the number employed in that nation grew 68,700 in the opening six months of this year, translating to a 6.8 percent annualized rate.  One year ago a number of expats were losing their jobs in the sluggish economy of 2008 and 2009.  Things are now looking up and employment numbers are on the rise.

More expats are being employed in the public sector as well as in the market for domestic workers.  In the private sector however, the number of expats was off.  This is the second consecutive year of this trend (from June to June).  Even though there are relatively few foreign workers in public industries, hiring has increased during the recent past.  In the twelve months leading to June of this year, there were 5,200 more expats working in the Kuwaiti public sector, in comparison to 23,000 less expats working in the private sector (with the exception of domestic employment).

Employment figures among the nationals were stable and improving.  There are over 18,000 more Kuwait nationals working now than there were one year ago (June to June).  This figure is a slight improvement over the annual number from the previous period.  Overall employment figures among Kuwaitis grew by 5.6 percent one year ago, following a similar trend that has occurred in the last few years.

Private industries are driving job creation within Kuwaitis, as shown by strong annual employment figures in that sector.  Almost half of the new positions created were found in the private sector.  At the close of June 2009 19 percent of Kuwait nationals worked in the private sector.  That number climbed to 21 percent by the end of June this year.  This was partially due to the National Labor Support Law from 2000, which provided those nationals working within the private sector similar benefits to those employed by government agencies.

Figures for employed Kuwaiti women have been rising in the last decade and are still moving up.  Employment growth for males was recorded at 9.4 percent, while growth for working women was at 19 percent.  Over the past decade the percentage of women within the Kuwaiti workforce has jumped to more than 50 percent, from the ten-year-old figure of 27 percent.  The majority of those gains occurred in the past five years.  Hotels, trade, construction and the restaurant sector have seen the most increase in employed Kuwaiti women.

Over 84 percent of Kuwait nationals are employed in the service industry, mainly in personal, social and community services, including government related.  Employed nationals within construction grew 16 percent, agriculture and fishing were up 17 percent, and trade and restaurants grew by 14 percent in the last year.  When looking at occupations, there is a concentration of Kuwait nationals within the clerical, secretarial and professional fields.

When looking at expat workers, around 39 percent are employed within personal, social and community services, with an overall total of 696,000 taking domestic workers into account.  About 306,000 are working within retail and wholesale trades and the restaurant sector, a reduction of 2 percent over last year’s numbers.  There were also 2 percent less expats working within the construction sector and total expat population grew for 2010.

Kuwait has a 3.57 million total population as of June 30, 2010, a growth of 3.6 percent annually.  The population of Kuwait nationals saw slightly slower growth of 2.8 percent, while expatriate population grew by 4 percent.  Nationals swelled to 1.13 million or 31.7 percent of the overall population and expats numbered 1.78 million by the close of June 2010.

Expat population rose in line with the increase in employment opportunities, which sped up in the opening six months of this year, reaching 5.8 percent (annualized).  These figures are far below the accelerated growth that occurred in the period ranging from 2004 to 2007, when the population rose by 12 percent.  The population of working age people climbed slightly faster than general population figures did.

In particular, the age group between 25 and 44 swelled, especially the female portion of that group which accounts for most of those working as domestic employees.  This group experienced a jump of 48,400 in the opening six months of this year.  Comparatively, the population of men between the ages of 20 and 29 fell by 24,700 in the same time period, particularly those employed in construction, manufacturing, hotels, trade and restaurants.

NBK came to the conclusion in its report that both population and employment figures are expected to keep rising as the economy continues to recover and strengthen.  It expects that Kuwaiti population and employment will remain steady in a growth pattern, while the hiring of expatriates is expected to accelerate further as businesses get busier, primarily with a group of mega projects included in the five-year plan beginning.  In the national population, most new jobs will be created within the private sector, which is well in line with development plans put forth by the government.  Those plans called for more strength within private industries and a steady flow of job creation.

It was noted that overall employment grew by 6.8 percent in the first six months of 2010, fueled mostly by a growing expat labor force.  Employment among nationals grew at a stable rate.  The private sector is still leading in job creation among Kuwait nationals.  In the first half of 2010 almost 50 percent of all new positions were found in private industries.  Kuwait nationals now number 21 percent of the private sector workforce.  There continues to be more growth in job creation than growth in population.  There was an annualized increase of 4.7 percent in the population, which now numbers 3.57 million.

Paul Holdsworth, Staff Writer, Gulf Jobs Market News
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