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Shock as SA’s unemployment rate reaches a record-high of 35.3%

More than hundred unemployed people queuing for social relief grant at Post office in Durban. File Bongani Mbatha: African News Agency /ANA

More than hundred unemployed people queuing for social relief grant at Post office in Durban. File Bongani Mbatha: African News Agency /ANA

Published Mar 30, 2022

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DURBAN - Statistics South Africa on Tuesday revealed shocking numbers of an ever-increasing unemployment crisis which rose to a record-high of 35.3%.

The Fourth Quarter Labour Force Survey for 2020/2021 showed an increase of 0.4% compared to the quarter three of the corresponding financial year.

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Youth aged 15-24 years and 25-34 years recorded the highest unemployment rates of 66.5% and 43.5%, respectively.

A total of 278 000 more people were recorded to have joined the unemployment bracket following a decrease of 183 000 in the previous quarter.

StatsSA said this was the fifth unemployment increase since the start of the Covid-19 national lockdown caused by the lack of business movement.

“In a quest to protect citizens from the novel coronavirus, the government announced a national lockdown, which in turn resulted in a shock in the labour market and a big change in the way people went about doing their work,” said the report.

StatsSA said the only employment decrease observed was in the informal sector, while employment gains were observed in the formal sector, private households and agricultural sector.

Of the 10 million young people aged 15-24 under the extended unemployment rate, 32.8% were not in employment, education or training (Neet) – a 3.0 percentage point increase over Q4 in 2020.

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“Some young people have been discouraged with the labour market and they are also not building on their skills base through education and training – they are Neet,” said the report.

The number of discouraged work-seekers decreased by 56 000 (down by 1.4%) and the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement also decreased by 341 000 (down by 2.4%) between the two quarters, resulting in a net decrease of 397 000 in the not economically active population.

The largest employment increase was recorded in KwaZulu-Natal, with a gain of 126 000 jobs, while Gauteng and Limpopo rounded off the top three.

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The largest decreases in employment were recorded in Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the North West.

The DA shadow minister for employment and labour, Michael Cardo, described the latest statistics as a “bloodbath” and said the presidency has to urgently build-up an environment for competitive small businesses.

“Last month, President Ramaphosa acknowledged that the private sector is the engine room of job creation. The DA will approach the red tape unit to adopt several key proposals to unlock the potential of the SMME sector and grow jobs. Freeing up small and medium-sized businesses to create jobs is a matter of urgency, given that there are nearly 12 million South Africans without a job. At the rate at which the SMME sector is being neglected, the National Development Plan’s stated objective of having 90% of all new jobs in the sector by 2030 will remain a pipe dream.”

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Cardo said government should scrap BBBEE: “Remove onerous BBBEE requirements for SMMEs as it has ensnared SMMEs in a costly web of red tape. These regulations must be scrapped.”

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