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UAE and Kuwait Jobs Prospects are Positive; Consumer Confidence Record High in Saudi

Middle East : 11 September 2011

Experts Say That UAE Jobs Are Safe

As the global economic situation worsens, experts state that many companies in the UAE are finished restructuring. Those working in recruiting reiterate that most firms have completed restructuring and downsizing processes. Surges of redundancies are not likely.

Cliff Single, BAC Middle East’s Commercial Manager, noted in an interview with Emirates 24/7 that layoffs similar to those seen in 2009 are not anticipated. He warned that isolated restructuring may occur, but the overall trend has moved away from that process.

Business manager for Huxley Associates Middle East, Hasnain Qazi told Emirates 24/7 that layoffs will occur occasionally, and may not be in any way related to the macro market situation. The displaced staff is often replaced with those who offer more relevant skills, a fresh workforce. Or in many cases, a more affordable staff will replace a higher cost workforce.

Some experts note that predicting the future is difficult, despite the improvements in the UAE job market. Economic conditions change rapidly, affecting a variety of industries in both positive and negative ways.

M&O Director and Partner at Stanton Chase, Konstantina Sakellariou told Emirates 24/7 that, assuming things remain the same in the UAE, larger amounts of layoffs are not to be expected for the UAE.

Experts agree that job cuts are likely to occur on a global scale. Job markets in the Eurozone and the US are expected to experience cuts. Nicholas Sarkozy, President of France, stated that his nation is in a battle to maintain production and jobs.

Job cuts are also occurring in Asia. In Hong Kong the banks are trimming back, although in limited amounts. Over the long term, regional experts are remaining positive over the Hong Kong job market.

Q1 Kuwaiti Employment Up 5.2 Percent

Growth in private employment levels remained stable at 5.2 percent for the opening quarter of 2011, according to a recent report.

After the global financial crisis in 2008 growth was slower. The Kuwait Economic Brief reported that Q1 growth is at the slowest rate in the last five years.

The non-private workforce expanded by 16,300 last year, representing a growth rate of 4.8 percent.

There were 2,700 new jobs created in the private sector in the first quarter of this year. In the twelve-month period including Q1 a total of 14,600 jobs were created. That total is less than the 15,800 jobs created in the previous year.

The workforce is growing twice as fast as the population of working age Kuwaiti. A growth rate of 2.6 percent was recorded in 2010, mainly due to more women participating in the labor force.

Back in 2007 and in 2008 up to 60 percent of new employment was awarded to women. That level of growth appears to have faded. Only 55 percent of jobs were given to women last year and just 48 percent in the first quarter of 2011.

First time jobs are mainly found in the private sector, which has increased hiring over the last twelve months. Private sector firms offered around 60 percent of new employment.

Despite these positive numbers, the private sector labor force has been slower in the last year. Growth on a year-on-year basis dropped to 7 percent by the close of Q1, down from 16 percent in the previous year. These numbers could indicate a drop in private sector activity.

Growth in the private sector was greater than the growth rates in the overall labor force, based on information in the report.

Saudi Consumer Confidence Sits At Record Level

The most recent MasterCard Consumer Confidence Index reports extremely positive levels in Saudi Arabia for the next six-month period. The 98.6 point score is even better than the previous high of 95.1 points recorded only six months before. Levels from twelve months ago were at 85.0 and eighteen months prior the confidence level was at 83.2 points. The latest scoring is the highest reported since 2004 and is substantially greater than other markets like China (at 78.3 points), India (at 75.2 points) and Hong Kong (at 69.9 points).

MasterCard’s Worldwide Index measuring consumer confidence has been running in the region the longest and is well known to be the most comprehensive index. The latest marks the nineteenth report. At the base of the index is a survey measuring the confidence levels as relates to prevailing market expectations for a six-month period. Five indicators are taken into account, including the economy, employment levels, quality of life, regular income levels and the stock market.

A zero score on the index is considered pessimistic, a score of 50 is neutral and a score of 100 is optimistic.

The most recent survey spanned over March and April of this year, involving 17,620 consumers in twenty-five different markets. Data was collected online, in person and over the telephone with local language translation available when necessary. The Index or the reports that accompany it do not represent MasterCard’s financial performance.

The highest levels of optimism were reported in the economy (with 99.3 points) and in regular income (with 99.2 points). The Stock Market indicator saw the lowest level of optimism, although it still registered 96.3 points. Each of the indicators reported extremely positive levels of confidence, with Quality of Life registering 98.9 points and Employment coming in at 99.1 points.

It was reported in the survey results that Saudi males (98.6 points) are slightly more optimistic than their female counterparts (98.4 points). Also, consumers under 30-year of age showed slightly higher levels of optimism (98.6 points) than those over 30 (98.5 points). The level of confidence for all Saudi consumers, regardless of age or gender was above 98 points, indicating record high confidence. This is regarded as very positive news for the Kingdom.

Paul Holdsworth, Staff Writer, Gulf Jobs Market News
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