Unemployment in SA worsens again, rising to 34.9%

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According to Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke, these are the highest unemployment rates since the start of the QLFS in 2008. Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht/Gallo Images via Getty Images
According to Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke, these are the highest unemployment rates since the start of the QLFS in 2008. Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht/Gallo Images via Getty Images


The official unemployment rate increased to 34.9% – from 34.4% – in the third quarter of this year, an increase of 0.5 of a percentage point from the second quarter.

Statistics SA (Stats SA) on Tuesday released its latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) which also stated that the expanded unemployment increased by 2.2 percentage points, from 44.4% in the second quarter to 46.6%, in the third quarter of this year.

According to Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke, these are the highest unemployment rates since the start of the QLFS in 2008.

Malerato Mosiane, Stats SA’s chief director for labour statistics, said the QLFS results showed that for the third quarter of this year, the number of employed people decreased by 660 000, bringing the total number of unemployed to 14.3 million.

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“The number of discouraged work seekers increased by 545 000 and the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement increased by 443 000 between the two quarters resulting in a net increase of 988 000 in the not economically active population,” said Mosiane.

She added that the number of employed had decreased in the country’s three largest provinces.

“KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng account for about half of the 660 000 decrease observed in employment in this quarter compared to the previous one.” She said:

Also, youth aged 15 to 24 and 25 to 34 recorded the highest unemployment rates of 66.5% and 43.8%, respectively.

Adding that about 3.4 million out of 10.2 million young people aged 15 to 24 were not in employment, education or training (NEET).

Overall, the NEET rate increased by 1.6 percentage points in the third quarter.

Mosiane said the QLFS results also indicated that the country’s labour market was more favourable to men than it was to women. “More men than women are participating in the labour market as the labour force participation rate of men is higher than that of women and the unemployment rate among men is lower than among women.

“The unemployment rate among women was 37.3% in the third quarter of this year compared to 32.9% among men according to the official definition of unemployment.

“The official unemployment rate among black African women was 41.5% during this period compared to 9.9% among white women, 25.2% among Indian/Asian women and 29.1% among coloured women, 4.2 percentage points higher than the national average for females” she said.

Irrespective of gender, the Black African and coloured population groups remain vulnerable in the labour market. The report showed that the unemployment rate among the Black Africans at 38.6% and remained higher than the national average and other population groups.

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According to the QLFS, the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and the North West recorded expanded unemployment rates above 50% in this quarter while the Northern Cape and Limpopo also had more than 20 percentage points difference between their expanded and official unemployment rates.

The country’s labour force participation rate also decreased by 2.3 percentage points from 57.5% last quarter to 55.2% in the third quarter, according to the report.

It also showed that employment decreased by 571 000 in the formal sector, by 65 000 in private households, while informal sector employment increased by 9 000. Mosiane:

The formal sector in South Africa accounts for 67.4% of total employment.

She added that seven out of eight industries recorded formal sector employment losses. “A decrease of 571 000 in the formal sector employment was mainly driven by the trade (272 000), community and social services (226 000), construction (55 000) and mining (49 000).

“The finance sector is the only industry that experienced gains in formal sector employment at 106 000 in this quarter,” she said.


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