Warning over South Africa’s unemployment rate

 ·11 Nov 2023

The upcoming Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) is likely to show a marginal uptick, with the nation’s structural challenges hurting the labour market.

The latest QLFS showed that the official unemployment rate dropped from 32.9% in Q1 2023 to 32.6% in Q2 2023.

The expanded definitions of the unemployment rate also dropped from 42.4% in Q1 2023 to 42.1% in Q2 2023.

The number of employed persons also increased by 154,000 to 16.3 million in Q2, while the number of unemployed persons dropped by 11,000 to 7.9 million.

The number of South Africans who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement grew by 93,000 to 13.3 million, while the number of discouraged work-seekers declined by 94,000 in Q2 2023 compared to Q1.

This caused a net decrease of 1,000 for the not economically active population.

Despite a slight improvement in Q2, Investec Economist Lara Hodes forecasts that the official unemployment rate for Q3 will be at 32.9% – returning to its Q1 2023 levels.

Although the unemployment rate has come down from the levels seen during the pandemic, it remains incredibly elevated.

“Moreover, the labour force participation rate remains below 60%, evincing the fragility of the South African economy, which is plagued by a number of structural challenges, significantly impeding activity and weighing heavily on confidence and growth,” Hodes said.

“The youth category, which comprises those aged 15-24 years, is the most disadvantaged segment of the economy when it comes to finding sustainable employment in this subdued market, with many lacking the necessary skills and experience.”

“Unemployment in this grouping did come down slightly in Q2.23 to 60.7% (from 62.1% previously) but remains at a critically elevated level. Improving the quality of and access to education and skills training programmes remains vital.”

Read: Massive visa backlog in South Africa – Home Affairs says it has a plan

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