The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) of the British Economist magazine stated that the reluctance of Kuwaiti citizens to participate in the labor force is a problem that outweighs the problem of unemployment, which rose slightly among Kuwaitis to 7.2 percent in the first half of 2021.
In its report, the EIU saw a decline in the number of Kuwaitis working in the private sector by 1.5 percent, stressing that it is evidence that the government has so far failed to achieve any significant success in increasing Kuwaiti employment in the private sector.
The report expects the population growth to return to its pre-pandemic level next year and have an impact with job opportunities receding which will lead to a recovery in consumer demand, but economic imperatives and government policy deficits mean foreign workers will continue to dominate employment in the private sector.
On the other hand, “The Economist” reported that the population of Kuwait shrank by 0.9 percent to reach 4.63 million in the first half of 2021, with the number of expatriates leaving the country,, according to Public Authority for Civil Information data published by Al Shall Economic Consulting company in early September.
Sources added the percentage of Kuwaitis in the labor market rose slightly to 16.3 percent at the end of last June, noting that 80 percent of these are public sector workers. The report also pointed to the departure of 56,000 expatriates this year followed the departure of 120,000 in 2020 — primarily a result of the Corona pandemic.
The Economist indicated that there are expectations that the number of expatriate workers in Kuwait will begin to increase with the easing of residency restrictions in light of the modest economic recovery, but it ruled out that the number of foreign workers will return to its pre-pandemic levels, when foreigners made up about 79 percent of the total number of foreigners.
The government accounts for about 17 percent of the 2.8 million workforce, noting that some politicians suggested using blunt means to regulate the labor market, such as setting a “quota” for nationalities and controversial measures such as preventing the renewal of residence for those who are over the age of sixty and don’t hold a university degree holders.
However, the reluctance of citizens to work in many professions in the private sector due to low wages and working conditions means these measures will hinder the growth of the non-oil economy, which prompted the executive authority to resist these initiatives.