/ 29 July 2014

SA’s unemployment rate spirals further into the record books

Marginalised: Unemployment prevents many young people from being productive and fulfilled citizens.
Marginalised: Unemployment prevents many young people from being productive and fulfilled citizens.

Joblessness in South Africa has reached its highest level since 2008 – 25.5% in the second quarter of 2014.

The unemployment rate rose by 0.3% from a rate of 25.2% in the first quarter of the year, Statistics South Africa reported in its quarterly labour force survey (QLFS), which was released on Tuesday.

“The number of unemployed persons increased by 87 000 over the second quarter of 2014 to 5.2-million, the highest level since the inception of the QLFS in 2008,” Stats South Africa (StatsSA) said. “This resulted in an increase in the unemployment rate to 25.5% … while the absorption rate remained virtually unchanged.”

The survey is based on households and data is collected on the labour-market activities of individuals between the ages of 15 and 64 years.

“The unemployment rate is four percentage points above the low of 21.5% observed in the final quarter of 2008,” StatsSA said.

In the second quarter of 2014, the number of discouraged jobseekers increased by 64 000 and the other (not economically active) group decreased by 35 000, resulting in net increase of 29 000 in the not economically active group as a whole compared with the first quarter of the year.

More employed than at the same time last year
More people are in fact being employed than before, but the unemployment rate has risen because the available labour force has grown more rapidly than the rate at which people have found employment.

StatsSA said gains in actual employment figures had been observed in both the first and second quarters of 2014, but the number of people employed was also growing at a decreasing rate.

“Compared to the same period last year, 403 000 more people were employed in the second quarter of 2014; this growth was 250 000 jobs lower than the growth observed in the fourth quarter of 2013 and 93 000 jobs lower than that observed in the first quarter of 2014.”

The unemployment rate rose as a result of a large increase of 126 000 in the labour force, compared with the much smaller increase of 39  000 in the number of employed people.

The data showed that the biggest job losses at both a quarterly and an annual rate were in the manufacturing and agriculture industries.