South Africa’s unemployment rate reached 35.3% in the 4th quarter of 2021, Statistics South Africa announced on Tuesday (29 March).
This is the highest rate since the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) was launched in 2008, Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke said in a statement.
South Africa’s unemployment rate hits new record
Although the number of employed persons increased by 262,000 to 14.5 million, the number of unemployed persons also increased by 278,000 to 7.9 million compared to the 3rd quarter of 2021.
The number of not economically active people fell by 397,000 to 17.4 million, while the number of discouraged work-seekers decreased by 56,000 (1.4%). The number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement also decreased by 341,000 (2.4%).
“These changes in the labour market resulted in the official unemployment rate increasing by 0.4 of a percentage point from 34.9% in the third quarter of 2021 to 35.3% in the fourth quarter of
2021 – the highest since the start of the QLFS in 2008,” Maluleke said.
“The unemployment rate according to the expanded definition of unemployment decreased by 0.4 of a percentage point to 46.2% in quarter 4 2021 compared to quarter 3 2021.”
Economy not creating enough jobs
The QLFS shows that although the economy is creating jobs, it is not creating enough to offset job losses or cater for new entrants in the labour market.
Employment in the formal sector increased by 143,000, but the informal sector lost 48,000 jobs. Persistent woes in the construction industry saw it shedding 25,000 jobs, while manufacturing lost 85,000.
“Between the 3rd quarter of 2021 and 4th quarter of 2021, a net increase in employment of 262,000, was mainly due to an increase recorded in Private households (129,000), Trade (118,000) and Community and social services (73,000),” Stats SA said.
The results show that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration has a lot more work to do to end the cycle of low growth and ever-rising unemployment. In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in February, Ramaphosa promised social partners at NEDLAC will forge a “new consensus” to unlock investments into the economy.
“We have begun discussions on what trade-offs are needed and what contribution we will each need to make. We have given ourselves 100 days to finalise a comprehensive social compact to grow our economy, create jobs and combat hunger,” the President explained.
“This work will build on the foundation of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP), which remains our common programme to rebuild the economy.”
You can read the full 4th quarter of 2021 QLFS on the Stats SA website here.