Unemployment in SA spikes to worst level

The official unemployment has spiked to its highest level ever.

According to the latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey, covering the first three months of 2017, unemployment stood at 27.7%.

This is easily the highest rate in the current series that Statistics SA maintains back to the beginning of 2008.

The expanded unemployment rate, including “discouraged workseekers”, however returned to its rate throughout most of 2016 – 36.4%.

This had fallen in the last three months of 2016, as is almost always the case due to year-end temporary work in retail spiking.

The official rate is driven higher by an apparently large movement of people out of the “discouraged” category into the just plain unemployed category. This indicates increased jobseeking.

In actual number terms, there were an estimated additional 620 000 working age people in the country compared with last year, bringing the total to 37 million.

Of these 43.7% were working, 27.7% were unemployed and about 33.3% were in school, studying or otherwise not looking for work.

The number of employed people increased 3.4% to 16.2 million compared to last year, using the relatively generous official definition of employment.

The number of officially unemployed, however, rose 8.6% to 6.2 million.

The statistics indicate that the majority of new jobs that have come into being in the past year were in Gauteng and particularly on the East Rand of Johannesburg.

The single largest sectoral increase in employment was in the nebulous “finance and other business services” sector which includes a variety of low-skilled service sectors.

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