Akhona Matshoba | 29 November 2022
SA's youth unemployment remains high at above 45%, according to Stats SA's latest QLFS figures. Image: Phill Magakoe/AFP/Getty Images
With the youth remaining the most vulnerable in the labour market.
The unemployment rate in South Africa decreased to 32.9% in the third quarter (Q3) of 2022, from 33.9% in Q2, as the manufacturing, trade, construction and transport industries recorded a boost in jobs.
Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) released the country’s latest jobs data on Tuesday.
According to its Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS), 204 000 jobs were gained between Q2 and Q3, bringing the total number of employed people in the country to 15.8 million.
The expanded definition of unemployment – which takes into consideration discouraged work seekers – also showed a percentage point improvement in Q3 to 43.1%, compared to 44.1% in Q2.
“The number of unemployed persons decreased by 269 000 to 7.7 million and discouraged workseekers also decreased by 54 000 to 3.5 million in the third quarter of 2022 compared to the previous quarter,” Stats SA said.
However: “The number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement increased by 264 000 between the two quarters, resulting in a net increase of 210 000 in the not economically active population.”
According to the QLFS, the biggest job gains in the quarter were reported in four industries: manufacturing (123 000), trade (82 000), construction (46 000) and transport (33 000).
The sectors that saw the largest job slides in the period were finance (80 000), private households (36 000), mining (1 000) and agriculture (1 000).
According to Stats SA the country’s youth remain vulnerable, with an unemployment rate of 45.5% in those aged between 15 and 34 – even higher than that reported for the expanded unemployment definition.
Nonetheless, the stats have improved somewhat.
“The total number of unemployed youth decreased by 182 000 to 4.6 million in Q3:2022. There was an increase of 25 000 in the number of employed youth during the same period.”
“The increase in employment and the decrease in unemployment among the youth resulted in a decrease in the youth unemployment rate by one percentage point,” says Stats SA.
United Association of South Africa (UASA) spokesperson Abigail Moyo said in a statement that government has failed its youth.
“The youth unemployment rate is crushing. Government has repeatedly failed our 4.6 million unemployed young workers,” she said.
“Thousands of young people graduate from higher institutions of learning and TVET [technical and vocational education and training] colleges each year, but unemployment remains unaddressed with no actionable plans in sight.
“Calling on government is clearly a waste of time. For the young, it’s now each to their own or nothing.
“They either aggressively demand and secure jobs, start their own businesses or stay behind and slumber in poverty forever.”
FNB senior economist Thanda Sithole says even though the level of employment in the country remains below pre-pandemic levels, it is encouraging to see the reduction in unemployment over the last year.
“We expect the recovery in employment to continue, albeit protracted, especially given the prevailing domestic and global headwinds. The domestic economy will primarily be characterised by slowing global growth and persistent load shedding over the next 12-18 months.”
Sithole says GDP will have to grow above 3% if the country is to start seeing meaningful job creation, but that persistent blackouts, depressed business confidence locally, and significantly low levels of investment will make this difficult.
Wealth and asset manager Anchor Capital says although the latest data shows a drop in unemployment, it believes interpreting the QLFS numbers in recent quarters has been difficult because of technical factors related to data collection.
“Surveys from the first two quarters of this year show cumulative job gains of just over a million in the first half of 2022, with about 650,000 of these in [Q2] alone.
“However, a significant percentage of this apparent increase in jobs may reflect improved data collection for the QLFS after the resumption of face-to-face interviews this year.
“Until the underlying data collection rates stabilise, quarterly QLFS estimates may remain difficult to map into observed economic activity.”
PSG Wealth CIO Adriaan Pask says that to continue supporting job creation, reforms need to be accelerated.
“To ensure an upward trend in employment, both the private and public sectors must accelerate the implementation of structural and pro-business reforms to unlock investment, reduce costs and increase competitiveness and growth, all of which will go a long way in creating sustainable employment,” he says.
‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’