Unemployment continues climb to worst levels in more than a decade

29 October 2019 - 12:17
Jobless guys looking for piece jobs in Meredale, Johannesburg. Picture: KATHERINE MUICK
Jobless guys looking for piece jobs in Meredale, Johannesburg. Picture: KATHERINE MUICK

SA’s unemployment rate continued its climb to the highest levels in over a decade, data from Statistics SA showed on Tuesday.  

The rate increased 0.1 of a percentage point to 29.1% during the third quarter of 2019, statistician-general Risenga Maluleke said on Tuesday.

“This is the highest since the first quarter of 2008,” he said. 

The expanded unemployment rate, which included discouraged job seekers, was 38.5%. 

Maluleke said declines in employment in the third quarter were recorded in the manufacturing sector, which shed 30,000 jobs, followed by construction at 24,000, trade 21,000 and utilities 18,000.

In the first quarter of 2019, the unemployment rate surged to 27.6%, with the economy bleeding 237,000 jobs during the period. This was an increase of 0.5 percentage points compared to the 27.1% recorded in the fourth quarter of 2018.

In the second quarter, the unemployment rate jumped to an 11-year high of 29%, when the number of unemployed people increased by 455,000 to 6.7-million. This was significantly higher than the 4.3-million unemployed people 10 years ago.

According Statistics SA's Quarterly Labour Force Survey, the working-age population — 15-64 years old — rose by 149,000 to 38.6-million in the third quarter.

Of that 38.6-million, the labour force unaccounted for 23.1-million, with the number of the employed increasing by 62,000 to 16.4-million. The unemployed accounted for 6.7-million and the economically inactive accounted for 15.5-million.

The number of employed people increased by 62,000 to 16.4-million during the period under review.

Maluleke said at a briefing in Pretoria that employment increased in three sectors, with the formal sector recording the largest employment increase of 43,000 jobs, followed by agriculture and private households with 38,000 and 35,000, respectively.

The increase of 62,000 jobs in the third quarter was mainly driven by community and social services with 56,000 jobs, followed by agriculture and mining with 38,000 each and private households with 35,000.