While employment conditions remain tough for all South Africans, it is black women who remain the most challenged demographic in the country when it comes to jobs – while white men remain in the best position.
According to Stats SA’s employment data for 2014, women lose out to men when it comes to employment across all racial demographics.
The data shows that labour market conditions in South Africa improved following the economic crisis, with the total number of employed persons increasing between 2008 and 2014 – from 14.6 million to 15.1 million.
However, the number of unemployed persons also increased – from 4.3 million to 5.1 million – resulting in an increase in the unemployment rate from 22.5% in 2008 to 25.1% in 2014.
Looking at population groups split by gender, overall female unemployment rates are far higher than those of men – although the gap has narrowed over the period, still in favour of men.
In 2008, unemployment rates for men were recorded at 19.8%, while 25.9% of women were unemployed – a gap of 6.1 percentage points.
In 2014, unemployment rates increased for both men and women to 23.3% and 27.2%, respectively, though the gap narrowed to 3.9 percentage points.
Reflecting the vulnerability of women in the South African labour market, female labour absorption and labour force participation rates are also lower than those of men for all population groups.
The rate for black African women, at 30.4% in both 2008 and 2014, remains higher than that of men and women in the other population groups by a wide margin.
Every population group saw unemployment rates increase between 2008 and 2014, except for Indian/Asian women who saw a decline in unemployment from 14.3% to 13.1%
White males are still the most employed demographic in the country, where the unemployment rate sits at 6.7%. This is up from 2008’s rate of 3.4%.
This leap is not as big as that of coloured men, where unemployment increased 5.4 percentage points to 23.1%, and coloured women, which saw the unemployment rate climb 4.8 percentage points to 25%.
Gender disparities also exist in terms of access to benefits. Despite rising for both men and women, a higher proportion of male employees were entitled to paid sick leave, Stats SA showed.
Furthermore, the proportion of employees who had access to pension/retirement fund contributions by their employer increased from 45.5% in 2008 to 48.9% in 2014, with access higher among male employees relative to female employees.
On the flip-side, while the share of employees working excessive hours declined, men were more likely to work excessive hours than women.