Durban — An economist has described the latest unemployment statistics as worse than expected. On Tuesday, Statistics SA released the unemployment rate for the first quarter of 2023, which is 32.9%, and said it was among the highest in the world.
Economist and director at Inkunzi Wealth Group, Owen Nkomo, said things were still going to get worse. He said by the second quarter of this year (2023), the unemployment rate could be 33.1% because of load shedding. Nkomo said businesses continued to be affected by load shedding and more people would lose their jobs.
“The black youth is going to be more affected by this,” he said.
Moreover, if the government wanted to fix things, it should also fight corruption, because investors would not come to South Africa if corruption was not tackled. “Corruption is making investors pack up and leave the country. Others will not come because of it,” said Nkomo.
The DA’s shadow minister for employment and labour, Dr Michael Cardo, said the latest figures revealed a grim reality.
“South Africa’s unemployment crisis is not only persisting but intensifying – a 0.2 percentage point increase from the preceding quarter. An analysis of these figures reveals that the ANC government’s inability to ensure a stable power supply is exacerbating this crisis,” he said.
“Even more alarming is the revelation that 3.7 million young people, accounting for 36.1% of the 15-24 year age group, are not in employment, education, or training. This is a ticking time bomb, threatening to explode with catastrophic,” Cardo said.
Evashnee Naidu, from social justice NGO Black Sash, said with the current state of affairs and projection of low growth, an anticipated increase in unemployment towards the end of the year would place a much greater burden on the social assistance framework in the country.
“Many more among those people in temporary or low-income jobs, and who lose jobs, will not have the security of private pensions to lean on while looking for other jobs and will require support from the government.
“Currently, unemployed people between 18 and 59 can apply for the R350 grant, but this is also plagued with systemic challenges and does not produce the intended relief,” she said.
Naidu said in order to address this, the government needed to look at making basic income support permanent and increasing the current value of the R350 grant to account for inflation.
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