South African unemployment rate drops to 27.1%

Stats SA has published its latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the fourth quarter of 2018, showing that South Africa ended last year with an unemployment rate of 27.1%.

This puts the unemployment rate at 0.4 of a percentage point lower than 3Q2018, where the rate climbed marginally to 27.5%.

According to Stats SA, the working-age population increased by 149,000 or 0.4% in the fourth quarter of 2018 compared to the third quarter of the same year. Compared to Q4: 2017, the working age population increased by 608,000 or 1.6%.

The number of employed persons increased by 149,000 to 16.5 million in Q4: 2018 while the number of unemployed persons declined by 70,000 to 6.1 million compared to Q3: 2018, resulting in an increase of 79,000 (up by 0.3%) in the number of people in the labour force.

The absorption rate increased by 0.2 of a percentage point to 43.3% and the unemployment rate declined by 0.4 of a percentage point to 27.1% compared to the third quarter of 2018.

Employment increased in three of the four sectors in Q4: 2018; with the formal sector recording the largest employment gains of 92 000 followed by Private households (65,000) and Agriculture (7,000).

The informal sector employment declined by 15,000 jobs. There was a net increase of 70,000 in the not economically active population, resulting in the number of discouraged work-seekers increasing by 108 000 while there was a decline of 38,000 in the number of people who were not economically active due to other reasons other than discouragement.

Compared to a year ago, employment and unemployment increased by 2.2% (358,000) and 4.4% (259,000) respectively. The number of persons who were not economically active declined by 0.1% (9,000).

Employment by industry

Between Q3: 2018 and Q4: 2018, the number of employed persons increased in six of the ten industries; with the largest increases recorded in Finance and other business services (109,000), Private households (65,000), Manufacturing (48,000), Mining (31,000) and Trade (14,000).

However, employment declines were recorded in Community and social services (51,000), Transport (30,000), Utilities (22,000) and Construction (21,000).


Read: South African unemployment rate climbs as the formal sector sheds jobs

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South African unemployment rate drops to 27.1%