7 Alarming Unemployment Stats

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Unemployed graduates march in Durban. (July 23, 2018)

Things are not looking good for South Africa’s unemployment rate, particularly the youth unemployment rate. The unemployment rate is now 27.6%, up by 0.9% from the first quarter in 2018. This is according to Statistics South Africa’s (StatsSA) quarterly labour survey [PDF] for the first three months of 2019. The report, released on May 14, covers labour market activities of people aged 15–64 years who live in South Africa. Here are seven things we learned from the report.

Employment is decreasing, unemployment is increasing

Since the last quarter of 2018, the number of employed people has decreased by 237 000 to 16,3 million. With the number of employed people decreasing, the number of unemployed people has increased. The number of unemployed people increased by 62 000 to 6,2 million. If we compare these figures to the last quarter of 2018, there’s been a decrease of 176 000 people in the labour force. In other words, employment is down by 0,8%.

The unemployment rate is the highest recorded increase since 2017

Our unemployment rate is currently sitting at 27.6%. This means it has increased by 0.5% since the three months before. This is the highest recorded increase since the third quarter of 2017.

More and more youth are out of work

Youth unemployment in South Africa has remained high for the youth. The survey shows that unemployment is sitting at 34.2% for youth aged between 25-34. For the youth aged between 15-24, the unemployment rate is 55.2%.

More of the population is eligible to work

Compared to the last three months in 2018, the working-age population has grown by 149 000 people or 0,4%. If we compare these figures to the first three months of 2018, the working-age population has increased by 605 000 or 1,6%.

The absorption rate also decreased by 0,7 of a percentage point to 42,6%.

The formal sector has bled the most jobs

The number of employed persons has decreased in six of the 10 industries. The formal sector recorded the largest employment losses of 126 000. The informal sector follows with 68 000 recorded losses, private households with 31 000 and then agriculture with 12 000 losses. Employment gains were recorded in transport, trade, utilities and manufacturing.

Number of economically inactive population increased

The number of discouraged work-seekers and the number of people increased by 156 000 people since the last quarter. The number of those who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement increased by 169 000. In total that’s a net increase of 325 000 in the not economically active population. Comparing these figures to a year ago, the number of persons who were not economically active increased by 3,1% or 470 000 people.

Limpopo, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga hardest hit by unemployment

The report shows that the number of employed persons has decreased in all nine provinces in between the two quarters. But StatsSA recorded the biggest decreases in employment in Limpopo, the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Mpumalanga.

The numbers for Limpopo and the Eastern Cape coincide with reports that these are the two most poverty-stricken provinces in the country. StatsSA’s 2017 poverty report shows that both provinces remained that way since 2001.

Featured image by Lizeka Maduna

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