Unemployment rate at 29% — StatsSA



South Africa’s unemployment rate has continued to increase, according to Statistics South Africa’s recently-released quarterly labour survey. It covers the second three months of 2019.

The unemployment rate increased by 1.4 percentage points from 27.6% in the first quarter of 2019 to 29% in the second quarter of the year. According to StatsSA, this is as a result of an increase of 455 000 in the number of people who are unemployed and an increase of 21 000 in employment.

According to the survey, this figure marks the highest increase in the number of unemployed persons in the second quarter of the year since 2013.

The number of unemployed South Africans has climbed 9.4 percentage points this time last year, putting the number of people without jobs at 6.7-million, StatsSA found. South Africa has an almost 23-million-strong labour force.

StatsSA’s quarterly labour survey collects information from approximately 30 000 households and collects data on the labour market activities of individuals.

The first quarter of 2019 saw the unemployment rate’s highest increase since the end of 2017.

According to this quarter’s results, the official unemployment rate increased in seven of the nine provinces, with the largest increase recorded in North West province. There was a marginal decline in the Western Cape’s unemployment rate, the survey found.

The survey shows that 57% of unemployed South Africans had an education level below matric, followed by those with matric at 33.4% in the second quarter of 2019. According to StatsSA only 2.2% of the 6.7-million unemployed South Africans were graduates, while 6.9% had other tertiary qualifications as their highest level of education.

The number of young people, between the ages of 15 and 34, without employment or in school or vocational training increased by 1% since last year, the survey found.

The survey also made findings on the conditions of employment, showing that year-on-year comparisons indicate that the number of workers decreased irrespective of the nature of their employment contracts.

“The largest decrease was recorded among those with a contract of unspecified duration (down by 150 000), while the number of employees with contracts of a limited duration and those with contracts of a permanent nature declined by 32 000 and 25 000,” the survey shows.

The StatsSA results come amid promises by government to address unemployment.

In his State of the Nation address, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that youth unemployment is “a national crisis that demands urgent, innovative and coordinated solutions where all of us should see it as a requirement to work together”.

“Government will continue to provide employment through the Expanded Public Works Programme, especially in labour intensive areas like maintenance, clearing vegetation, plugging water leaks and constructing roads,” Ramaphosa said.

“We will continue to develop programmes to ensure that economically excluded young people are work ready and absorbed into sectors where ‘jobs demand’ is growing.”

Ramaphosa also changed the name of the labour department, adding employment to its mandate.

In his budget vote speech earlier this month, Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said: “In the current situation of deep systemic unemployment and slow growth, government has to use its active labour market policies to improve access to jobs and skills.”

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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