SOWETAN | Good news on new jobs but..
The jobs figures released by Statistics SA yesterday are a welcome relief, indicating an increase in the number of employed persons and a decrease in the rate of unemployment.
As far as the numbers go, the third quarter data should give us hope considering employment figures are back to pre-Covid levels. According to the figures released in the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, the number of employed persons increased by 399,000 to 16,7-million in the third quarter compared to 16,3-million in the second quarter.
Meanwhile, the number of unemployed persons decreased by 72,000 to 7,8-million during the same quarter. This resulted in the official unemployment rate decreasing by 0,7 of a percentage point from 32,6% in second quarter to 31,9% in the third quarter.
Any form of decline in the unemployment rate is welcome news to South Africans who have been struggling to find jobs. But what should remain worrisome for our policy makers and leaders is the stubbornly high rate of unemployment among the youth.
Despite a drop by 1.9 percentage points to 43.4% from 45.3%, at least 4.5-million young South Africans are still jobless. Another worrisome trend is related to mismatch in terms of age groups. The figures show that youth aged 15-24 years and 25-34 years continue to have the highest unemployment rates at 58% and 38,3% respectively.
This means that youth aged 15-34 years are more vulnerable to unemployment compared to older age groups like 54-44 and 55-64 years. The high rate of unemployment for the crucial groups like youth should be taken seriously, particularly as this relates to dealing with poverty and inequality. This is likely to negatively impact the future of the country both in terms of levels of crime and economic prosperity.
The latest jobs figures therefore, while encouraging, tell a multi-layered story that we ought to be cautiously relating without getting too excited. To reduce unemployment significantly, our economy will have to grow by a bigger margin than it is currently. These numbers should keep those in charge of government on their toes, thinking about how to convince the youth to vote for their return to power next year.
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