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SA’s youth unemployment crisis

The growing youth unemployment rate is a crisis with nearly three out of four recent school-leavers being unemployed in South Africa today

Published May 17, 2023


Durban - The 1,1% increase in the youth unemployment rate to 46,5% in the first quarter of 2023 means that 4,9 million young people have little to no hope for a future in South Africa unless there is a drastic change, Brett Herron of the GOOD party said.

Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) said youth unemployment remained a problem following the release of the latest figures on Tuesday, with figures revealing that almost a quarter of a million young people lost their jobs in the first three months.

“Once again, South Africa’s unemployment rate just narrowly missed the 33% mark following an increase in the first three months of 2023.

“While the 'real' or expanded unemployment rate, which includes the people who have given up looking for jobs, might have dropped slightly, it also remains at a horrendous 42.4%.

“The stubbornly high figure is a stark reminder that millions of South Africans will remain trapped in poverty for a number of more years, many without any sort of daily income to survive on,” Herron said.

A research article, “Why is youth unemployment so intractable in South Africa? A synthesis of evidence at the micro-level”, that was published in the Journal of Applied Youth Studies in 2020, stated that youth unemployment stood at 53.2% as reflected by the 1996 National Census.

There was a significant decrease from 2004 to 2008 during the country’s economic recovery, only to see unemployment figures start to increase after the global economic downturn of 2009.

According to the research, these levels changed very little despite the country’s economic recovery since 2009, and the 19 to 29 age group was particularly affected.

ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba said the youth unemployment figures highlight the urgent need for the government to change its approach to the economy and find new solutions to create jobs and lift people out of poverty.

“Despite repeated promises to ignite the economy since 2018, President Cyril Ramaphosa and his ANC government have failed to create jobs.

“Instead, President Ramaphosa's economic policies have seen the largest expansion of South Africa's unemployment rate in recent years, with a possible recession underway due to the country’s increasing levels of load shedding and malfunctioning logistics system.”

Mashaba said the growing youth unemployment rate is a crisis, with nearly three out of four recent school-leavers (those below the age of 25) being unemployed in South Africa today.