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Uncovering SA employment by race

Uncovering SA employment by race

New data published by Stats SA provides insight into the employment landscape within South Africa when broken down by population group.

The national statistical service compared data from the October 1994 household survey, and its 2014 quarterly labour force survey.

It notes that between 1994 and 2014, employment rose by 6.2 million, but the labour force (those working and those seeking work) rose by 8.7 million, resulting in a net increase of 2.6 million in unemployed.

The unemployment rate increased from 22% to 25% over the past 20 years.

Under the expanded definition of unemployment however, the number of unemployed rose by 3.5 million between 1994 and 2014, with the unemployment rate at 35%.

The expanded definition includes those who are unemployed and who are available to work, whether or not they have taken active steps to find employment.

Employed people in SA increased by 69.2%, with 6.16 million more people employed in 2014, from 1994, to 15.054 million. However, the number of unemployed people increased by 103%, or by 2.578 million people, to 5.067 million.

South Africa’s labour force has grown to 20.1 million, from 11.386 million in 1994, Stats SA said.

Based on the expanded definition of unemployment, however, the number of unemployed in SA has grown 73.3% to 8.157 million, from 4.707 million people in 1994.

Unemployment by population group

By 2014 the black African unemployment rate based on the expanded definition had declined from 43% to 40%, but this is of no comfort to the additional 3.1 million black African workforce unemployed, Stats SA said.

Unemployment by population groupThe stats body noted education as an important determinant of unemployment in both 1994 and 2014.

In 2014 the numbers of unemployed and the corresponding unemployment rates for educational  levels were: less than matric 3 904 489 or 40%; matric 710 622 or 28%; and tertiary 70 650 or 6%.

Unemployment by education level
“Possibly of most concern is the increase in the unemployment rate for black Africans with tertiary education. It more than doubled, from 8% to 19%,” Stats SA said.

“Not many would have predicted such an outcome for the post-apartheid period when access to the labour market, at least for those with skills, should have been easier after so many decades of racial exclusion.”

“The trend raises serious questions about the quality and/or appropriateness of tertiary education and reinforces the findings made above regarding skills development,” Stats SA said.

Overall landscape

Overall, the fastest-growing group in total employment in SA is the black African population, both in absolute and relative terms.

The black African population made up 63.2% of total employment in 1994 and 72.8% in 2014, an increase of 9.6 percentage points.

All other population groups declined as a proportion of total employment, with the largest decline evident in the white population, down 7.3 percentage points.

Skill workers

StatsSA showed that in the first quarter of 2014, approximately 25% of South African workers were in a skilled occupation, namely managers, professionals and technicians. This was an increase from 21% in 1994.

However, a higher percentage (46%) were still in semi-skilled occupations (e.g., clerks, craft and related trades, and machine operators) in 2014, a slight decrease from 47% in 1994; and 29% were in low-skilled occupations (elementary jobs and domestic work), down from 32% in 1994.

Employment composition by skills

Employment composition by skills

There were substantial shifts towards skilled work among white and Indian/Asian populations, with the proportion of skilled workers increasing from 42% in 1994 to 61% in 2014 among the white workforce, and an increase among the Indian/Asian workforce from 25% to 51% over the same period.

The proportion of semi-skilled workers within the white workforce decreased from 55% in 1994 to 36% in 2014. Only 3% of white workers occupied low-skilled occupations in both 1994 and 2014, Stats SA said.

The black African workforce showed only a slight movement towards skilled occupations, but a more substantial movement towards semi-skilled occupations.

In 1994, 15% of black African workers occupied skilled jobs, increasing to only 18% in 2014. Over the same period the proportion of black African workers in semi-skilled occupations increased from 42% to 48%.

More on skills in SA

Apartheid legacy keeps black youth unemployed

SA university entrant skills at Grade 5 level

South Africa’s critical skills shortage

Low university attendance amongst blacks in SA

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  • Emmanuel Sequeira

    So, in short, Black Economic Empowerment has not worked? Instead only a few fat cats benefitting from BEE. You would have better results by investing in education for the poor instead of building mansions. The rich get richer and the ANC does not care about education.

    • Name Goes Here

      “Rich get richer” This is true throughout the world, no matter what color your are. Its not a race war, its a class war. We will always find something to fight about, instead of just being.

      • Unamused

        It is neither a race war nor a class war. These concepts were created by the government to distract us from them stealing our futures. The more we fight amongst ourselves for being “white” or “black” or “rich” or “poor”, the less time we spend demanding answers from our “leaders” – and this is exactly what the government wanted pre-1994 (the NP) and what the current government post-1994 (the ANC) want.

    • hernandayoleary2

      That is why we need Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment

  • Kosie

    Haha, the increase in black unemployment since apartheid has crumbled is probably also apartheid’s fault, yes? Of course it is!

    • hernandayoleary2

      but unemployment went down?

  • Xileer

    We should be looking at why low skilled Black Africans have a higher employment rate than semi-skilled, which have a higher employment rate than Skilled…

    The graph for whites seems to be correct (With skilled people with a higher employment rate), so why is the graph for Black Africans inverted?

    • Quality of education.

    • leon

      The answer is dimple access to opportunity. How come a 26 year old white male earn R103k p/m while a similarly educated black male would still be looking for work. It’s access to work is not about percentage it’s about job reservation which is still rife.

      • Xileer

        “How come a 26 year old white male earn R103k p/m”

        Because he’s a CEO in JHB. No chance in hell is someone going to earn that anywhere else in SA in any other position, and probably not at that age, either. If so, there’d be FAR more multi-millionaires in SA than the 3000 or so there currently are (In fact, I’m almost 30, and I don’t know ANYONE that earns even half that)

      • NeonPigeon

        lol R103k pm.

  • This is complete and utter BS, there are what, 9 million white South Africans? of course our unemployment rate will just be 8 or 9%, you’d think for a statistical body they’d be smart enough to calculate the percentage per population group and not just put them all in the same pool, but then again, you cant blame the whites for taking all the jobs if you do that!

    • Unamused

      4.3 million whites in South Africa

  • userpupuser

    Less than Matric?? Are they completely dumb???

    • Loman

      How anyone can even fail matric these days is beyond me as it is so dumbed down that matriculates have to take extra courses just to be qualified for college.

      But some kids leave school early and that isn’t dumb, just plainly moronic.

  • Douglas Ross

    But still the 62% will vote for the ANC, not realizing the ANC is failing everybody. How can you’re unemployment get worse even with stuff like BEE and AA?

    • Unamused

      Note the numbers. The issue is rise in birth rate.

  • Loman

    Proof that BBBEE has failed miserably.
    Proof that our education system has failed tremendously.
    Proof that affirmative action has not worked nor will it ever work.

    As if we didn’t know this already.

  • Mel

    Should this numbers not be crunched on population % instead of plain head count. Whites, Coloured and Indians in South Africa is far less than blacks. Our population increase is also far less. So it make perfect sense that our unemployment rate will show as a lower percentage

  • GT640rox

    I’m still trying to understand why your first table looks like it doesn’t reflect the number written quite clearly on it. Unemployment among black people has decreased by 3% yet the graphic shows an increase… Are you trying to show the total population of unemployed vs their respective unemployment rates? If that’s the case then your table (by my interpretation) means that jobs are not being created fast enough for the rate of population growth.

    Now I know what I am about to say is going to be received quite negatively, but maybe we as black people should stop procreating faster than our countries resources can maintain. The old days are over, where we the competition for resources was lower and we could have 8 children, all of them would become successful and look after us in our old age. This new age demands that we have children at a rate that is sustainable and allows all our children to find work.

  • ThundaFlash

    What I’d like to know is how many of the Employed White statistics are Self-Employed? I’ve noticed since the start of BEE that around 2/3 of the white people I know are now self employed. So the way it works is that most corporate jobs are now for “Blacks Only”, subtlety state by the term “EE” which has forced the majority of white workers to become self employed entrepreneurs. This has been great for white people in that most persecuted people end up being stronger. The only catch is that if you grow your company to turn over more than R10m per annum then you are not allowed to be the sole shareholder and have to bring in a black partner or be excluded again.

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