Unemployment In South Africa Now At 31.9%, Showing Signs Of Recovery



While South Africa's rate unemployment remains a major cause for concern, slight improvement in employment was recorded in the third quarter of 2023. The unemployment rate has also declined. 



The Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) released by Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) on Tuesday indicated some improvements in the country's employment landscape during the third quarter of 2023. The Unemployment Rate in the country is now 31.9%

The number of employed individuals increased by 399,000 to reach 16.7 million employed people in South Africa. This is a notable increase from the 16.3 million employed individuals recorded in the second quarter of the year. Simultaneously, the number of unemployed persons decreased by 72,000, bringing the total down to 7.8 million.

Lisette Jissel de Schepper, a Senior Economist from the Bureau for Economic Research says the decline in the unemployment rate in the third quarter of 2024 is encouraging and very welcome. The unemployment rate of 31.9% was the lowest unemployment rate record for South Africa in the last several years. 

However, they expressed concern over the fact that three in every four unemployed individuals in South Africa have been unemployed for a period of longer than one year. This is indicative of a structural unemployment problem in the country 

There still is a big structural unemployment problem in the South African economy but we're moving in the right direction 

One area of concern they highlighted is youth unemployment. The youth unemployment rate decreased by 1.9 percentage points from 45.3% in quarter 2 of 2023 to 43.4% in quarter 3 of 2023.

They say this is high compared to 23.3% for the older working generation. They acknowledged the progress but emphasised the long road ahead in addressing the youth unemployment crisis in South Africa.

The youth remain vulnerable in the labour market, however, the third quarter of 2023 results show that the total number of unemployed youth (15 – 34 years) decreased by 174 000 to 4.6 million while there was an increase of 237 000 in the number of employed youth to 6.0 million. - STATSSA

Government Welcomes Reduction In Unemployment 

Minister in The Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says the slight by notable increase in employment and reduction in unemployment is reflective of the country's efforts to address the unemployment crises. 

The results are a testament to the collaborative efforts of the public and private sectors, as well as the hard work and dedication of our citizens.

Ntshavheni says government will continue its commitment to creating a suitable environment that encourages investment, stimulate economic activity and promote innovation. They believe this will contribute to sustained job creation. 

The Unemployment Data

StatsSA revealed that there was also a decline in the number of individuals not economically active for reasons other than discouragement, dropping by 160,000 to 13.1 million. Additionally, discouraged workers decreased by 26,000 during the same period which resulted in a net decrease of 186,000 people in the not economically active population.

This indicates that more than 20,000 people are actively seeking employment and are not discouraged from entering the labour force.

The positive changes in employment and unemployment statistics contributed to a 0.7 percentage point decrease in the official unemployment rate, which now stands at 31.9%, compared to 32.6% in the second quarter of 2023. The expanded definition of unemployment also saw a decline of 0.9 percentage points, reaching 41.2% in Q3 2023. 

Where Jobs Were Gained And Lost

Formal sector employment increased by 287,000 jobs in the third quarter, while informal sector employment rose by 29,000 over the same period. Key industries contributing to the employment gains include finance where 237,000 jobs were created, community and social services which saw 119,000 new jobs and agriculture which grew by 61,000 jobs.

However, certain sectors faced employment losses. Manufacturing saw a decrease of 50,000 jobs, the mining sector lost 35,000 jobs, transport industries lost 20,000 jobs and utilities recorded 16,000 job losses.

Jobs increases were recorded in KwaZulu-Natal where 152,000 jobs were created. They were followed by Limpopo (70,000), North-West (61,000), and Mpumalanga (44,000). The only province that saw a decline in employment was the Free State where 3,000 jobs were lost.

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