The third quarter’s jobs print was also the highest jobless rate since the third quarter of 2017 when it was recorded at a 13-year high of 27.7 percent.
The key mining and manufacturing sectors were once again the biggest culprits in the jobs bloodbath, shedding 54 000 jobs between them in the third quarter. The mining sector workforce, which stood at 446 000 at the end of last year’s third quarter, has plunged to 406 000.
In all, the number of unemployed persons rose by 127 000 to 6.2 million in the period, while 92 000 jobs were created in the period, taking the labour force to 16.4 million.
Statistics SA said the country’s unemployment has since 2008 raced from 21.5 percent to almost 28 percent.
“The most affected persons were women and youth. More men (51.4 percent) than women were unemployed in 2018 compared to 2008. However, the percentage of women who were in long-term unemployment was higher than that of men in both 2008 and 2018,” StatsSA said.
The expanded definition of unemployment, including people who have stopped looking for work, rose to 37.3 percent in the quarter from 37.2 percent in the prior quarter.
Earlier this month, Bureau for Economic Research data showed that since the 2009 financial crisis, domestic real gross domestic product growth has underperformed relative to both emerging market peers and average global growth.
The research showed that, under different assumptions regarding post-crisis growth and the elasticity of employment, the economy could have created between 500 000 and 2.5 million more job opportunities over the eight-year period.
The jobs picture looks even bleaker after both the National Treasury and the South African Reserve Bank revised their growth forecast for this year to a pedestrian 0.7 percent – way below the average population growth rate of 1.6 percent.
Lara Hodes, an economist at Investec, said: “In order to see any significant job creation in South Africa, economic growth needs to be ignited, underpinned by effective policy implementation and policy certainty, which are required to restore confidence and enhance the investment climate.”
Stakeholders at the Jobs Summit signed a framework agreement which outlines measures aimed at arresting the tide of unemployment and job losses.
The framework has set a target of creating 275 000 jobs annually over five years.
However, cracks have begun to show in the agreed framework after the country’s major trade union federation Cosatu yesterday said the government was not committed to the framework, particularly taking issue with planned lay-offs at the SABC.
The SABC is looking at letting 982 workers go and cutting 1 200 of its freelance workers.
Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said South Africa had not been able to set itself on a path of people-centred development.