Good news for unemployment in South Africa

 ·31 May 2022

Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) provided some welcome news on Tuesday (31 May), showing that the country’s unemployment rate declined over the first quarter of the year, albeit marginally.

The official unemployment rate was 34.5% in the first quarter of 2022, from 35.3% in the prior reporting period, recovering 0.8 of a percentage point.

The unemployment rate according to the expanded definition of unemployment also decreased by 0.7 of a percentage point to 45.5 % in Q1:2022 compared to Q4:2021, StatsSA said.

The group’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the first quarter 2022, indicates that 370,000 jobs were gained between the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022, to 14.9 million.

The biggest job gains were recorded in community and social Services (281,000), manufacturing (263,000) and trade (98,000). However, there were job losses in private households (186,000), finance (72,000), construction (60,000) and agriculture (23,000).

The number of unemployed persons decreased by 60,000 to 7.9 million in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the previous quarter, StatsSA said, resulting in an increase of 310,000 (up by 1.4%) in the number of people in the labour force.

The number of discouraged work-seekers decreased by 54,000 (1.4%) and the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement decreased by 112,000 (0.8%) between the two quarters resulting in a net decrease of 166,000 in the not economically active population.

The working-age population increased by 144,000 or 0.4% in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the fourth quarter of 2021. Compared to Q1: 2021, the working-age population increased by 578,000 or 1.5%.

To better understand the observed large changes in the key labour market indicators between Q4: 2021 and Q1: 2022, special tabulations were done to study movements between labour market status categories.

It was observed that a large number of persons moved from the ‘not economically active’ and ‘unemployed’ categories to the ’employed’ status between the two quarters, which resulted in a decrease of 0.8 of a percentage point in the unemployment rate to 34.5%.


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