South African unemployment jumps to a 16-year high of 29%

South Africa’s unemployment rate climbed substantially in Q2 2019, StatsSA said on Tuesday (30 July).

The Quarterly Labour Force Survey for Q2 2019 showed that 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 2019.

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, the stats body said.

The country’s unemployment rate last hit over 28% in 2003.

“The number of unemployed persons increased by 455,000 in Q2 2019 following an increase of 62,000 in the previous quarter,” StasSA said.

“Notable from the below figure is that this is the highest increase in the number of unemployed persons in the second quarter of the year since 2013.

“The only other increases in the second quarterS of the year were recorded in Q2: 2013 (up by 110,000), followed by those in Q2: 2018 (up by 102,000) and Q2: 2014 (up by 87,000).”

The data shows that shows that of the 6,7 million unemployed persons, 57% had an education level below matric, followed by those with matric at 33,4% in the second quarter of 2019.

Only 2,2% of the unemployed persons were graduates while 6,9% had other tertiary qualifications as their highest level of education.

Speaking at  a secondary education conference in Johannesburg, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the country needed to do more to absorb young people into the workforce.

Rampahosa said that most unemployed young people across Africa are those who have completed secondary or tertiary education. By comparison, unemployment is lower among those who have little to no education, he said.

“You may ask, how is it so? Agriculture is the largest employer, and for now, it is labour intensive and requires workers who in most cases are without education.

“Those who completed secondary or tertiary education are finding it difficult to secure employment. Among other things, this is due to a mismatch of the skills people learn and the needs of the market.

“With the advent of the fourth industrial revolution, there is a danger that this mismatch will grow. Due to the skills deficit, our countries are ill-prepared for technological change.”


Read: Why people with degrees can’t find jobs: Ramaphosa

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South African unemployment jumps to a 16-year high of 29%