South Africa’s unemployment rate shoots up to 30.8%

Risenga Maluleke. Image credit: Twitter/SA Gov News

South Africa’s unemployment rate rose to 30.8 percent in quarter 3 of 2020 (Q3:2020) compared to the second quarter.

This is according to Statistics SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) released on Wednesday.

7.5 percentage points increase

There were large movements of people out of the “other not economically active” category to “employed” and “unemployed” between quarter 2 and quarter 3, Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke said.

However, significantly more people moved into the “unemployed” category than “employed,” resulting in an increase of 7.5 percentage points in the unemployment rate to 30.8 percent. This is the highest since the start of the QLFS in 2008.

Maluleke added, “The number of employed persons increased by 543,000 (3.8 percent) to 14.7 million compared to the second quarter of 2020.

“Unemployment increased substantially by 2.2 million (52.1 percent) to 6.5 million compared to quarter 2 of 2020 resulting in an increase of 2.8 million (15.1 percent) in the number of people in the labour force.”

In the expanded definition, South Africa’s unemployment rate increased by 1.1 percentage points to 43.1 percent in Q3:2020 compared to Q2:2020.

Job losses

Employment increased in all sectors in Q3:2020, driven mainly by private households (11.5 percent increase) and informal sector (7.7 percent increase).

However, compared to Q3:2019, there were job losses in all industries except mining. “Most job losses were observed in Trade (400,000), Manufacturing (300,000), Community and social services (298,000) and Construction (259,000),” Maluleke said.

The latest figures contrast sharply with those from Q2:2020 when the unemployment rate actually fell to 23 percent but 2.2 million people lost their jobs.

Maluleke explained at the time that this was because people were not actively looking for jobs due to the “hard” lockdown imposed during that period.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has since launched an economic reconstruction and recovery plan which aims to create around 800,000 jobs in the coming months.

Recruitment for 200,000 teaching assistant jobs has already commenced across South Africa, for instance.

Click here to download the full Quarterly Labour Force Survey in PDF from Stats SA’s website.

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