Massive jump in South African unemployment rate

 ·9 May 2016

New data shows that South Africa’s unemployment rate increased to 26.7% of the labour force in the first quarter of 2016, up 2.2 percentage points from 24.5% in the fourth quarter of 2015.

StatisticsSA said that employment levels declined quarter-to-quarter in all industries except Community & Social services and Agriculture which grew by 51,000 and 16,000 respectively.

The biggest job losses were observed in Trade (119,000), Manufacturing (100,000) and Construction (77,000).

Employment declined by 2.2 percentage points, or 355,000 in Q1: 2016, which combined with an increase in the number of unemployed persons of 521,000 resulted in an unemployment rate of 26.7%.

However, on a year-on-year basis, employment was still higher in Q1: 2016 by 204,000 compared to the same period last year, StatsSA said.


Despite the quarterly increase, employment in Agriculture was lower by 15,000 compared to a year ago. The opposite pattern was observed in Mining, Construction, Trade and Finance & other business services.

While employment declined quarter-to-quarter in these industries, employment levels increased on an annual basis in Mining (30,000), Construction (40,000), Trade (115,000) and by 23,000 in Finance & other business services, the data collecting body said.

Community & social services grew both quarter-to-quarter and year-on-year while Manufacturing declined on both quarter-to-quarter (100,000) and year-on-year (141,000).

The expanded unemployment rate which includes those who were available to work but did not look for work in the reference period also increased by 2.5 percentage points between Q4: 2015 and Q1: 2016 to 36.3%, StatsSA said.

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