Unemployment rate ticks higher in South Africa

 ·14 May 2024

South Africa’s unemployment rate has increased to 32.9%.

According to Stats SA’s latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey, the number of employed persons jumped by 22,000 quarterly to 16.7 million in Q1 2024.

However, the number of unemployed persons increased by 330,000 to 8.2 million over the same quarter.

Moreover, the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement decreased by 214,000 to 13.1 million. Discouraged work-seekers decreased by 1,000 in Q1 2024 compared to the fourth quarter of 2023.

This caused a net decrease of 215,000 in the not economically active population.

Thus, the official unemployment rate increased by 0.8 of a percentage point from 32.1% in Q4 2023 to 32.9% in Q1 2024.

The unemployment rate, according to the expanded definition, also jumped by 0.8 of a percentage point to 41.9% in Q1 2024.

Formal sector employment jumped by 56,000 in Q1 2024, while informal sector employment decreased by 100,000.

The industries that contributed the most to the net employment increase included Trade (up by 109,000),
Manufacturing (up by 99,000), Private households (up by 44,000), Transport (up by 39,000), Agriculture (21,000) and Mining (9,000).

Employment losses were recorded Community and social services (122,000), Construction (106,000), Finance (50,000) and Utilities (17,000).

Provinces that recorded jumps in employment were KwaZulu-Natal (35,000), Gauteng (26,000) and Northern Cape (4,000) quarter-on-quarter.

The remaining provinces, except the Free State which remained unchanged, all saw decreases, with the Western Cape (17,000) seeing the largest drop.

“The youth (15 to 34 years) remain vulnerable in the labour market; the first quarter of 2024 results show that the total number of unemployed youth increased by 236,000 to 4.9 million while there was a decrease of 7,000 in the number of employed youth to 5.9 million,” said Stats SA.

“This resulted in an increase in the youth unemployment rate by 1.3 percentage points from 44,3% in Q4 2023 to 45,5% in Q1 2024.”

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