CAPE TOWN - Unemployment reached the 29-percent mark in the second quarter in an 11-year-high, according to figures released by Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) on Tuesday.
It marked a 1.4 percent increase from the first quarter of the year and is the highest the unemployment rate has been since the first quarter of 2008, StatsSA Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke said, as he released the quarterly labour survey at a media briefing in Pretoria.
It is also not far off from the highest ever unemployment rate of 29.3 percent reached in March 2003.
"This is as a result of an increase of 455,000 in the number of people who are unemployed and an increase of 21,000 in employment," according to the labour survey.
It said the expanded unemployment rate, including people discouraged from looking for work, increased by 0.5 percentage points to 38.5 percent in the second quarter.
The working-age population increased by 150,000, or 0.4 percent, compared to the first quarter. The number of employed people increased to 16.3 million while that of the jobless climbed by 455,000 to 6.7 million.
Employment increased in two of the four sectors, with the informal sector recording the largest gain of 114,000 followed by agriculture with 5,000. The formal sector and private households declined by 49,000 each.
"The number of discouraged work-seekers and the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement decreased by 248,000 and 77,000, respectively, between the first and the second quarters of 2019," Stats SA said.
This resulted in a net decrease of 326,000 in the not economically active population.
Maluleke said there were now 3.3 million people in the age group of between 15 and 24 years who were not in employment, education or training, termed NEET.
In the age bracket of 15 to 34 years, which account for 20.4 million of the country's people, 8.2 million, or 40.3 percent, now fell into this category.
"The overall NEET rate increased by 1.0 percentage point year on year."
It means that unemployment amongst young people is at more than double the rate than among those in the 45- to-54-year-old bracket, where it now stands at 17.2 percent.
He said though there was an increase in both the number of male and female South Africans in that age group that were not working, training or studying, girl and women were far more affected with 43.9 percent falling into the NEET category. The percentage of males under 34 in the same position have now reached 36.8 percent, a year-on-year increase of 1.8 percent.
"Women remain much more affected than their male counterparts."
The North West province had the highest rate of people who were neither studying nor working with 45.9 percent. It increased in all provinces, except KwaZulu-Natal.