SA unemployment on the rise — Stats SA

Over six million South Africans are unemployed, with the country’s official unemployment rate on the rise. This is according to data released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) on Tuesday.

The data is contained in Stats SA’s quarterly labour force survey for the third quarter of 2018 — between July and September. It registers quarter-to-quarter changes in the labour force, as well as the long-term changes between this quarter and the same period in 2017 as well as over the last 10 years.

The report reveals that of the 6.2-million unemployed South Africans, over four million of them have been without a job for a year or longer. Between 2008 and 2018, the number of persons experiencing long-term unemployment has increased by 1.7-million.

South Africa has 38-million people of working age and over 15-million are not economically active, according to the data.

The unemployment rate now stands at 27.5%, up from 27.2% recorded between April and June.


Stats SA said in its report that those most affected by the growing unemployment rate are women and young people.

More men than women were unemployed in 2018 compared to 2008. But more women than men had access to long-term employment opportunities in both years.

Though the percentage of young people unemployed for over a year declined by 7.4% from 2008 to 2018, about two-thirds of those in long-term unemployment were between the ages of 15 and 34 in 2018, Stats SA found.

The report also revealed that close to a third (29.3%) of all people employed in the period were employed in low-skilled and domestic work jobs. In the last year permanent work contracts decreased by 163 000, with short-term contracts only declining by 29 000.

Mining was one of the sectors hardest hit by declines in employment, with 29 000 less people employed between July and September. But the declines in employment in seven of the ten industries were offset by employment gains in the finance, trade and construction sectors.

According to separate Stats SA research, released in June, the first part of the year saw mining enter into a recession. Production was down by almost 10% in the first quarter of 2018, following on from a 4.4% decrease in the last quarter of 2017. “Lower production in gold, platinum group metals and iron ore were the main contributors to falling performance,” Stats SA said.

As a result, in the last year major mining companies operating in South Africa have announced plans to embark on mass retrenchments.

In May AngloGold Ashanti — the world’s third-largest gold producer — said it would retrench 2 000 South African workers, and in August Impala Platinum announced it would cut 13 000 jobs due to financial difficulties resulting in operational instability.

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Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.

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