Bad news for jobs in South Africa

 ·12 Aug 2021

South Africa’s job market is unlikely to see a significant improvement this year, with over 1.4 million jobs being lost in 2020, and only a fraction expected to be recovered in 2021, a new report by professional services company PwC shows.

The group’s annual chief executive survey, released earlier this year, found that 95% of South African CEOs are concerned about the impact of unemployment on society and their businesses.

The lack of jobs was the top-ranked concern ahead of pandemics or other health crises and inadequate basic infrastructure.

“In the first quarter of this year, South Africa had 11.4 million unemployed adults after a net 1.4 million jobs were lost in 2020,” PwC said. “We expect only 315,000 of these lost jobs to be recovered in 2021 as economic growth is held back by lockdowns, unrest and load-shedding.”

PwC said that this expected growth in employment will be insufficient to make a meaningful impact on the unemployment rate.

“After closing last year at 32.5%, the narrowly defined unemployment rate is expected to moderate only marginally in 2021 to 32.3%. A forecast of 32.4% for end-2022 signals the start to a slow upward trend over the long term as local job creation continues to lag behind the needs of a growing labour force.”

Data expected to show a bleak picture

According to Trading Economics, South Africa’s narrowly defined unemployment rate – most recently measured at 32.6% in the first quarter – is the third-highest globally after Bosnia and Herzegovina (32.7% in May) and Nigeria (33.3%).

Statistics South Africa is scheduled to publish its next Quarterly Labour Force Survey on 24 August, with the jobs data unlikely to show any improvement, said Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) chief executive Busi Mavuso.

“For much of this year, and especially since the release of the first quarter unemployment figures at the start of June, I’ve sought to bring much attention to our unemployment crisis. At 32.6%, it stands at the highest since records began in 2013.

“Towards the end of this month, jobless data for the second quarter will be released by Statistics South Africa that in all likelihood won’t paint a better picture. What we can be confident about is that July rioting and the tougher lockdown rules will deepen our unemployment crisis.”

There are now a further 150,000 jobs at risk and women most affected, Mavuso said.

Read: Here’s how much money top CEOs and executives earn in South Africa

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter