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Unemployment rate rises to 14-year high of 27.7%

South Africa’s unemployment rate rose to 27.7% in the first quarter of this year, the highest level since September 2003.

Statistics South Africa’s latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey, released on Thursday, reveals that the growth in employment, of 144 000 people, was offset by the growth in the number of job seekers by 433 000.

Statistician general Dr Pali Lehohla said that employment was boosted by growth in the manufacturing sector, which added 62 000 jobs, and in the finance and other business services categories, which added 49 000 employees.

Mining added 26 000 jobs.

“Mining grew for the first time after declining for four successive quarters. Employment grew in all provinces quarter-on-quarter except in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo,” he noted.

All metros registered growth in employment except Nelson Mandela Bay, Manguang and Johannesburg, which remained unchanged.

“Of the 433 000 people who joined the ranks of the unemployed, approximately 58% were young people aged between 15 and 34, increasing the youth unemployment rate by 1.6 percentage points to 38.6%,” Lehola said.

He pointed out that the proportion of those in short-term unemployment increased by 2.4 percentage points to 34.2%, a further indication that these were young people who joined the work force at the beginning of the year.

Unemployment rates remained high among those with education levels of less than matric at 33.1%, which is 5.4 percentage points higher than the national average.

Unemployment rates among graduates remained at 7.3%.

The expanded unemployment rate, which includes those who have given up on finding a job, increased by 391 000 people, or 0.8 of a percentage point, to 36.4%.

“Until such time as meaningful structural reform initiatives are pushed through and political uncertainty subsides, we see little scope for improvement in South Africa’s labour market anytime soon,” commented BNP Paribas securities South Africa economist Jeffrey Schultz.

Source : Engineering News