SA unemployment rate hits worst level in 14 years

As many as 9.3 million people are now looking for work in South Africa, as the country’s unemployment rate hit a new high, Stats SA announced on Thursday.

The stats body published its Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the first quarter of 2017, showing that the addition of 144,000 jobs was offset by the growth in the number of job-seekers by 433,000.

This has pushed the unemployment rate to 27.7% in the first quarter of 2017 – the highest rate observed since September 2003.

The expanded unemployment rate – including those who are unemployed and not actively seeking work, also hit a new high of 36.4%.

According to Stats SA, growth in employment was observed in all industries except agriculture, trade and services.

The biggest growth was observed in manufacturing (62,000), finance and other business services (49,000) and mining (26,000).

Mining grew for the first time in Q1:2017 after declining for four successive quarters.

Furthermore, employment grew in all provinces quarter to quarter except in Eastern Cape
and Limpopo.

All Metros registered growth in employment except Nelson Mandela Bay, Mangaung and City of Johannesburg, which remained virtually unchanged.

There were approximately 500,000 extra people in employment in Q1:2017 compared to the same period last year. The year-on-year employment growth was driven by manufacturing (145,000), construction (143,000) and finance (152,000).

The stats body noted that of the 433,000 people who joined the ranks of the unemployed, approximately 58% were young people aged 15-34 increasing the youth unemployment rate by 1.6 percentage points to 38.6%.

The proportion of those in short term unemployment (i.e those who have been looking for work for less than a year ) increased by 2.4 percentage points to 34.2% a further indication that these were young people who joined the labour force at the beginning of the year, it said.

Read: General Motors to axe 600 jobs in South Africa

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SA unemployment rate hits worst level in 14 years