Unemployment Rate In SA Sees Slight Improvement

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Recent data has revealed that the country’s second quarter unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since the first quarter of 2021. However, more work needs to be done to ensure substantial progress as unemployment remains sky high.


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The latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) showed that at least 150 000 more people were employed in the country during the second quarter of this year as compared to the first – resulting in a minor decrease in the unemployment rate by some 0.3%.

The Labour Force Survey looks at people living in South Africa between the ages of 15 and 64 and analyses their labour market activities.

According to Statistics South Africa’s (Stats SA) data South Africa’s unemployment rate fell slightly to 32.6% in the second quarter (Q2) of this year from 32.9% in Q1. 

This was the seventh consecutive increase in employment since Q4 2021.

SA Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke, says that there are currently 16,3 million employed people in South Africa with 154 000 jobs gained from the previous quarter.

Maluleke affirmed:

We are inching closer to pre-COVID levels.

Furthermore, the number of unemployed persons also dropped by 11 000 to 7.9 million during the period.

The number of discouraged work seekers decreased by 94 000 in the second quarter of 2023 compared to the first quarter of 2023 resulting in a net decrease of 1 000 in the not economically active population.

SA Youth Unemployment

Despite an increase in the number of youth employed during that period, Stats SA said youth remain “vulnerable” to unemployment.

The institution noted:

The youth remain vulnerable in the labour market, with the second quarter of 2023 results showing that the total number of unemployed youth [between 15 and 34 years old] decreased by 131 000 to 4.7 million.

There was also an increase of 105,000 in the number of employed youth to 5.7 million over the same period.

“This resulted in a decrease in youth unemployment rate by 1.1 percentage points to 45.3% in Q2:2023,” Stats SA said. However, this is still far higher than the 23% seen for the 35 to 64 age segment.

Industry Performance

Stats SA said that employment in the formal sector increased by some 143 000 during the same period with informal sector employment decreasing by 33 000.

Overall, five of the nine sectors looked at by Stats SA saw employment increases.

The biggest gains came out of the construction sector with a total of 104,000, Trade (92,000), and Community and Social Services (63,000) saw the most significant gains in employment.

Meanwhile, Manufacturing (96,000), Finance (68,000), Transport (7,000) and Utilities (6,000) saw the biggest declines.

Construction [104 000], trade [92 000], and community and social services [63 000] recorded the largest employment gains. While employment losses were recorded in manufacturing [96 000], finance [68 000], transport [7 000] and utilities [6 000].

Provincial Performance

Provincially, seven out of the nine provinces saw improvements in their employment numbers.

The Limpopo province, Western Cape (up by 54,000) and KwaZulu-Natal (up by 48,000) saw the biggest increase in employment numbers.

However, decreases were noted in the Free State (down by 59,000) and Northern Cape (down by 17,000).

Experts have noted that the better-than-expected outcome could be challenged in the months ahead as the economy is expected to stagnate this year because of record power cuts, lower commodity prices and logistic constraints.

Suggested Article:

Unemployment.

South Africa's ongoing living crisis, extreme levels of poverty and unemployment show no signs of slowing down, particularly due to the slow-growing economy that is needed to create jobs. 


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