More than half a million jobs were lost in the third quarter of 2021 according to Statistics South Africa (Stats SA).
Of the 39.7 million people who are of working age (between the ages of 18 and 64) in South Africa, only 14.3 million people are employed. This equated to just above 36%.
SA’s labour force comprises 21.9 million individuals, of which 7.6 million are unemployed. The number of employed persons decreased by 660 000. This equates to an official unemployment rate of 34.9%. About 3.9 people are defined as discouraged work seekers while 14 million are not economically active.
Deputy Parliamentary Co-Ordinator of the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU) Matthew Parks says the unemployment figures are depressing. He explains that the recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic saw unemployment reach record highs in the country.
Parks has questioned how many more wake-up calls the government and the private sector needs before action is taken against the current situation. A situation that he describes as a ticking ticking time bomb.
He said, “government needs to do much more to grow the economy to stimulate it and it really needs to accelerate the implementation of the economic recovery plan but equally the banks the private investment funds can't afford to continue to sit on the sidelines and they really need to help provide relief to the economy to avoid retrenchments”.
However the situation can be helped by members of the public if they do two things according to Parks.
He has called on members of the public to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to limit the spread of the virus. This, he explains, could prevent the government from reintroducing restrictions and lockdowns.
He has also called on them to buy locally produced goods. This includes food, clothing, furniture and vehicles. This he says would help stimulate jobs and stimulate growth in the manufacturing industry and the economy as a whole.
“There are many things we have to do but I think the fundamental thing is we don't have the luxury of time. Voters spoke very clearly on the 1st of November, they are tired, the workers are fed up, they want to see unemployment falling and jobs being created, not the opposite. If we continue on this road we can expect a far worse result in the 2024 elections to all political parties” concluded Parks.