New Figures Show South Africa's Unemployment Rate Is On The Rise


South Africa's unemployment rate has increased once again, proving that more work needs to be done to ensure substantial progress is made in reducing unemployment in South Africa.



South Africa's already steep unemployment rate has increased, meaning that just under 8 million people across the country are currently unemployed. The official unemployment rate is now at 32.9%, up from 32.7%. 

This comes after the unemployment rate fell during four consecutive quarters in 2022, bringing it down from the record highs recorded in the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.

South Africa has struggled to revive the jobs it lost in the first months of the pandemic in 2020, when 2.2 million people found themselves without work. In the quarters that followed, the official unemployment rate only continued to rise.

Just two months ago (in March 2023), South Africa recorded a slight decrease in the unemployment rate, and although only a tiny figure of 0.2%, it still gave hope. At the time, the results reflected that unemployment in the country decreased marginally in the final months of 2022.

A total of 426,000 people were added to the country’s labour force since then, probably the result of discouraged workers returning to the job market as well as the entrance of new matriculants and graduates, although having the qualifications does not always guarantee employment.

However, as of 2023 and the 7.9 million people currently unemployed, 42.4% are discouraged work-seekers; those who have given up on the job search completely.

On top of that, youth unemployment remains one of South Africa's biggest worries, although some progress has been made.

A total of 62.1% of the youth aged 15 - 24 years old are currently unemployed as of the first quarter of 2023, which translates to just under 4 million young people that are sitting at home, without furthering their education and/or training or in employment. 

From 2013 to 2023, graduate unemployment has risen by 10%. 

Sthandiwe Msomi, a member of the SA Youth Economic Council, says there is not enough growth amongst businesses that are meant to employ young people.

If we look to the type of policies we have, such as the District Development Model and the various township economy goals, those are supposed to be the governance structures that exist to try and ensure that we decentralize centres of economic activity in South Africa, and actually create economic opportunities for young people where they are.

The impact of loadshedding has been particularly strenuous on businesses, who are unable to operate when there is no electricity for up to four hours during stage six loadshedding.

A number of small businesses have had to let some of their employees go or cut their working hours in order to cope with the loss of productivity during power outages. 


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In the first quarter of 2022, Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) revealed that the unemployment rate increased to 63.9% for people aged 15-24 years old. On the other hand, unemployment stood at 42.1% for the 25-34 age group, prompting government to find ways to combat youth unemployment. 





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