Saudi women at a restaurant in Riyadh. Image Credit: Reuters

Abu Dhabi: The average monthly salary of Saudi women exceeded men for the first time in the second half of 2020, local media reported.

The median salary of men amounted to SR3,944, while the salary of women reached SR4,105 during the period.

The report in Al Watan Arabic daily is based on data of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, the General Organisation for Social Insurance (GOSI), and the National Labor Observatory of the Human Resources Development Fund (HADAF).

According to the report, the gender pay gap was about SR231 at the end of the first half of 2020, with men’s median pay amounted to SR4,539 while women’s pay stood at 4,308.

The salaries of women registered a growth of SR613 compared to SR603 for men on an annual basis. This showed an increase of SR603 (15.32 per cent) and SR613 (16.59 per cent) in the salaries of newly-hired Saudi men and women respectively on an annual basis.

The pay of newly-hired Saudi men reached SR3,963, while that of women was SR3,695 by the end of the first half of 2020.

The average salaries of Saudis in the private sector reached SR6,838 for men and SR4,476 for women. The average salary for men grew by 3.6 per cent and for women by 8.2 per cent on an annual basis, reaching SR6,596 for men and SR4,137 for women, by the end of the first half of 2020.

The report also covered the statistical figures of private sector businesses including individual, joint-stock, limited liability enterprises, and societies that are registered in the GOSI systems.

There has been a steady increase in their number from the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021, and then decreased in the second quarter of 2021, where the number of companies for the second quarter of 2021 reached 630,798, and the growth in the number of companies was 10 per cent, compared to the same quarter of 2020.

While the percentage of decrease was 2.7 in the number of companies in the second quarter of 2021, compared to the previous quarter. During the second quarter, about 26.7 per cent of the private sector businesses were in the wholesale and retail trade sector and the repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles.

The following are the median pay of the newly hired Saudis in the private sector over the last two and a half years. First half 2019: men SR3,986, women SR3,624; second half of 2019: men 3,881, women 3,588; first half of 2020: men 3,963, women 3,695; second half of 2020: men 3,944, women 4,105; first half 2021: men 4,539, women 4,308.

Globally, in 2021, women earn 82 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to PayScale.

Among our sample, the median salary for men is roughly 18 percent higher than the median salary for women. This figure represents a 1 per cent improvement from 2020 and an 8 percent improvement from 2015, when the median salary for men was roughly 26 percent higher than the median salary for women. However, we can’t necessarily take this improvement at face value.

Due to the economic turmoil of COVID-19, women, especially women of color, have disproportionately faced unemployment at higher rates than in typical years. As more women of color, women at lower job levels, or women who are paid less leave the workplace, it may ultimately move the average median pay for women up – slightly closing the gap between men and women’s pay overall.