SOUTH Africa’s unemployment rate of 32,5% is the highest since 2008, with the number of unemployed people increasing by 701 000 to 7,2-million in the fourth quarter of 2020, compared to the third quarter of 2020.
This is according to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the fourth quarter of 2020, which also showed that the number of employed persons increased by 333 000 to 15-million.
There was an increase of 1-million (up by 4,9%) in the number of people in the labour force.
The number of discouraged work-seekers increased by 235 000 (8,7%), and the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement decreased by 1,1-million (7,4%) between the two quarters, resulting in a net decrease of 890 000 in the not economically active population.
The movement was proportionately more towards the unemployed than for the employed, which resulted in a significant increase of 1,7 percentage points in the official unemployment rate to 32,5% – the highest since the start of the QLFS in 2008.
The unemployment rate according to the expanded definition of unemployment decreased by 0,5 of a percentage point to 42,6% in quarter 4 2020 compared to the third quarter of 2020.
Employment increased in all sectors in the fourth quarter of 2020. Formal sector employment increased by 189 000 (1,8%); Informal sector employment by 65 000 (2,6%); Private households by 76 000 (6,8%), and employment in Agriculture increased by 2 000 (0,3%).
“We are seeing that the proportion of people of working age, versus the proportion of those that are employed, is widening, meaning the market is not creating sufficient jobs to absorb enough (people),” Statistician General Risenga Maluleke told a news conference.
South Africa, which has the continent’s highest rate of COVID-19 infections, was in recession before it recorded its first coronavirus infection in March and has long suffered from extremely high levels of unemployment.
According to an expanded definition of unemployment that includes those discouraged from seeking work, 42.6% of the labour force was without work in the fourth quarter, amounting to 11.1 million people, Stats SA data showed.
Compared to a year ago, total employment fell by 1.4 million people, while the number of people who were not economically active rose by 1.5 million, the agency said.