Saudi Arabia sees strongest growth in jobs in five years amid business boom

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Saudi Arabia saw the strongest increase in employment in almost five years even as business conditions in its non-oil economy improved at a slightly slower pace at the end of last year following a surge.

Companies sought to add to their staffing capacity in response to an increase in sales and higher demand, according to a survey of purchasing managers compiled by S&P Global and published on Tuesday.

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The Riyad Bank Saudi PMI stood at 56.9 in December, well above the 50-mark separating growth from contraction. The gauge reached 58.5 in November, the highest reading in more than seven years.

“We see operating conditions remaining favorable in December, characterized by rapid growth in the non-oil activities and a robust labor market by the end of 2022, with both jobs and wages having far more momentum than previously thought,” said Naif Al-Ghaith, chief economist at Riyad Bank.

The buoyancy of the non-oil private sector — the engine of job creation for the world’s top crude exporter — reflects the strength of the economic momentum after the pandemic that’s been largely immune to a sharp uptick in the cost of money at home and the threat of a slowdown globally.

Prices charged by companies increased at the fastest rate in nine months in December, as firms saw a need to pass increased expenses onto clients.

“The increase in interest rates has been offset by the rapid growth,” Al-Ghaith said. “This significant growth pushed prices even further in the service sector, pointing to an inflationary pressure caused by the demand side.”

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