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The real employment rate in SA

The real employment rate in SA

New research finds that only 43% of all South Africans aged 15 to 64 are working, while as many as 59% have either no education at all, or have an incomplete secondary education.

Solidarity Research Institute has published its South African Labour market report, which puts broad unemployment at 35.8%, while the official unemployment rate is 25.4%.

StatsSA is expected to publish unemployment figures for the fourth quarter of 2014 on Tuesday (10 February).

Senior researcher, Paul Joubert said that the South African labour market is plagued by high unemployment. More than a third of all people who want to work, cannot find work.

He said that the equivalent rate for the member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is about 65%.

For South Africa to attain this level, another eight million people would have to start working, Solidarity said.

“What is more, only about 31% of all adults in South Africa are employed in the formal sector – the other 12% that have jobs, work in the informal sector or as domestic workers, gardeners or farm workers,” Joubert said.





Solidarity stressed that 35.5 million people that are officially of “working age” comprise
only two-thirds of the total population, because South Africa’s population is relatively young.

Of the 35.5 million, only 15.1 million have any kind of job – which is how the employment rate of 43% is determined.

“However, that does not mean that the remaining 57% of people of working age are all unemployed,” Joubert said.

“People can only be unemployed if they wish to work. If someone chooses not to work, it is not a problem for them if they do not have work. For instance, it surely is not a problem that 6.3 million students do not have jobs. The real problem lies with the 8.4 million people who would like to work but cannot find a job.”

Of the 8.4 million, 3.3 million are no longer actively looking for a job, because they have lost all hope of finding employment, Solidarity said.

Employment rate

Employment rate

The research said that an important reason for this state of affairs is that the growth areas of the South African economy are mostly sectors in which an employee must have some academic or technical education after school level to be successful.

The combined tertiary sector of the economy accounts for about 70% of the value generated annually in the country.

The report noted that only 13% of the adult South African population have any tertiary education, while only an additional 28% have a matric certificate.

“Although these percentages are growing steadily, it is clear that there is still a large imbalance between the type of employees that the growth sectors of the economy need and the nature of the potential employees that are available,” it said.

Solidarity said that a perception does exist that there is an unusually high number of
unemployed graduates in South Africa. This notion has often been expressed in the public discourse over the past few years by people such as Jimmy Manyi and even President Jacob Zuma.

However, Joubert dispels the myth of graduate unemployment in South Africa, concluding that in South Africa only about a 100,000 graduates out of two million are unemployed at any given stage.




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  • Macafrican

    I’d believe the claim that less than half the people work. It’s self-evident, since more than half the people steal for a living

    • konfab aka derp

      Is that before or after you count “electricity emancipation” as theft?

      • Emil

        If 43% have employment , 57% is unemployed. This is the official number. We have 28mil work force of which 15.96mil is unemployed.
        The reasons………..20 years of mismanagement and not investing in people………only in Inkandla, ext ext.

  • Vrede

    “in South Africa only about a 100 000 thousand graduates out of two million are unemployed at any given stage.” – is that sarcastic?

    • ProfessorJericho

      No, it’s true that graduate unemployment is around 5% in SA, BUT this does not take underemployment into account AKA the philosophy graduate flipping burgers at McDonalds. At least that guy is better off financially than the unemployed dropout.

  • Ikabot

    There aren’t 100 million unemployed graduates in SA. I think you meant 100 000.

  • Duiwel

    Stat SA are paid by gov, gov want them to cook stats so that the country looks stable so the world won’t interfere and take the dummy out of the infants mouth and scold him for having a wet nappy. Baby zuma wants to run us into the ground because he can’t have all his toys in the cott.

    • Duiwel

      I should have said “allegedly”

  • Ga77a

    So JZ’s grandiose speech after he was elected for a 2nd term claiming that the ANC government generated a million jobs during his first term fails to mention that 2 million jobs were lost during that time. Only in the last year did the employment figures recover to what they were at the beginning of the term and 1 million jobs were added while the ANC was campaigning heavily for re-election. I am beginning to see a correlation between the ANC government not doing anything and an improvement in the country.

  • Johan Lewis Last

    Solution: Stop paying those big salaries = then you can hire more people for the same amount = more work getting done = good for the economy and business = less unemployment

  • Real Ist

    And a good percentage are not i.e. deriving their funds through criminal activity.
    They wouldn’t want a ‘9-5’er’ even if it was offered to them on a silver platter.

  • Hennie

    The biggest problem that’s facing S.A. is unemployment and that is the government’s fault by having labour laws that make it difficult for other countries to invest in S.A. and then to knock them out, their is the unions. If more people have work, their is more people to spend money on education for their children, With more people having a better education more people will invest in S.A. When will this government wake up.

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