South Africa’s official unemployment rate remained unchanged at 29.1% in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to the third quarter.
This is according to Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke, who released the latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey in Pretoria on Tuesday.
He said, “The number of employed persons increased by 45,000 to 16.4 million and the number of unemployed persons decreased by 8,000 to 6.7 million in Q4 2019 compared to Q3 2019, resulting in an increase of 38,000 in the labour force.”
Formal sector shows largest employment increase
The formal sector recorded the largest increase in employment (117,000) followed by Agriculture (6,000).
However, employment in the informal sector decreased by 77,000 and remained unchanged in the Private Households sector.
The working age population rose by 145,000 in the fourth quarter while the number of discouraged job seekers rose by 62,000.
Maluleke said the 45,000 net increase in the number of employed persons was driven by Community and social services, which employed 113,000, followed by Finance (76,000) and Transport (36,000).
Youth unemployment a concern
He added, “Declines in employment were recorded in Trade (159,000), Manufacturing (39,000) and Utilities (14,000).”
Youth unemployment remains a concern, with 40.1% of the 20.4 million young people aged 15-34 not being in employment, education or training (NEET).
This was a negligible decrease of 0.3 of a percentage compared to the third quarter of 2019.
Malulele also said this is the first time since 2008 that the unemployment rate has not decreased in the fourth quarter.
The latest unemployment figures offer President Cyril Ramaphosa only a temporary relief because several companies, including Telkom, Massmart, Samancor Chrome and Sibanye Stillwater, have announced plans to retrench workers.
Pressure is mounting on Ramaphosa to outline plans in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday to address the unemployment crisis and other issues.