JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s unemployment rate increased by 1 percentage point to 30,1 percent in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.
This followed three consecutive increases from the second quarter to the fourth quarter of 2019.
This is the second consecutive decline in employment in the first quarter of each year after observing increases in the first quarters of 2017 and 2018.
Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) on Tuesday said the number of employed persons decreased by 38 000 to 16.4 million in the three months to March, but increased by 91 000 compared to the same period last year.
The largest decreases in employment were observed in the clerical occupations, followed by technician and professional occupations in the first quarter compared to the previous quarter.
StatsSA said the number of employed persons decreased in five of the nine provinces, with the largest employment decreases recorded in Free State, North West, Western Cape and Limpopo.
Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, however, recorded employment gains.
The number of unemployed persons increased by 344 000 to 7.1 million in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter, following a decrease of 8 000 in the previous quarter.
This resulted in an increase of 306 000 in the labour force.
StatsSA said the largest employment decreases were observed in the formal sector with 50 000 job decreases, followed by the agricultural sector with 21 000 in the first quarter.
On the other hand, employment in the informal sector and private households increased by 3 000 and 30 000 respectively.
StatsSA said the unemployment rate for those aged 25-34 was more than double that of the 45-54 year olds.
The unemployment rate among the youth was higher irrespective of education level as graduate unemployment increased significantly for those aged 15 – 24 years.