/ 1 November 2011

SA’s jobless rate eases, but remains high

South Africa’s official jobless rate eased to 25.0% of the labour force in the third quarter as the trade and finance sectors created jobs, Statistics South Africa said on Tuesday.

The government has pushed joblessness to the top of its agenda but has acknowledged that the rate of economic growth needs to double to 7% a year to make a meaningful dent in unemployment.

Seventeen years after the end of apartheid, millions continue to live in poverty and young black people are growing increasingly disillusioned with the ruling African National Congress that led the fight against white-minority rule.

In its latest quarterly Labour Force Survey, Statistics South Africa said the unemployment rate fell from 25.7% in the second quarter.

That meant the number of employed people rising by 1.5% — its biggest increase since before a 2009 recession.

The broader definition of unemployment, which includes those who have given up looking for work, was at 36.0% from 36.9% in the second quarter.

“Despite a decline in unemployment in the third quarter, 4.4-million people remain unemployed and just over three-million have been unemployed for a period of one year or more,” Stats SA said, noting that over 60% of job seekers did not have a high school qualification.

The high rate of joblessness is the main risk for Africa’s largest economy, with the potential for major social instability if the situation endures.

Kefiloe Masiteng, deputy director general of population and social statistics, said 60% of unemployed people did not have a high school diploma. — Reuters