Unemployment rate improves slightly in South Africa

 ·15 Aug 2023

The latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) showed that employment numbers improved in South Africa in Q2 2023, with the official unemployment rate dropping slightly.

According to Stats SA’s data, the number of employed persons in South Africa increased by 154,000 to 16.3 million in Q2 2023.

The number of unemployed persons also dropped by 11,000 to 7.9 million during the period.

The number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement jumped by 93,000 to 13.3 million, while the number of discouraged work-seekers declined by 94,000 in Q2 2023 compared to Q1, which resulted in a net decrease of 1,000 of the not economically active population.

This resulted in the official unemployment rate declining by 0.3 of a percentage point from 32.9% in Q1 2023 to 32.6% in Q2 2023.

The expanded definition of the unemployment rate also dropped by 0.3 of a percentage point from 42.4% to 42.1% in Q2 2023.

Industry performance

Stats SA said that formal sector employment increased by 143,000 in Q2 2023; however, informal sector employment dropped by 33,000 over the same period.

Overall, five of the nine sectors looked at by Stats SA saw employment increases.

Construction (104,000), Trade (92,000), and Community and Social Services (63,000) saw the most significant gains in employment.

On the other hand, Manufacturing (96,000), Finance (68,000), Transport (7,000) and Utilities (6,000) saw the biggest declines.

Provincial performance

Provincially, seven provinces saw improvements in their employment numbers.

Limpopo, the Western Cape (up by 54,000) and KwaZulu-Natal (up by 48,000) saw the biggest increase in employment numbers.

Decreases were, however, noted in the Free State (down by 59,000) and Northern Cape (down by 17,000).

Youth crisis

Although the youth are still incredibly vulnerable in the labour market, the number of unemployed youth aged 15 to 34 declined by 131,000 to 4,7 million.

There was also an increase of 105,000 in the number of employed youth to 5.7 million over the same period.

The youth unemployment rate thus dropped by 1.1 percentage points to 45.3% in Q2 2023.

This is, however, far higher than the 23% seen for the 35 to 64 age segment.

Read: South Africa shoots itself in the foot

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