Johannesburg - The low rates of economic growth and the less than ideal 0.3% point quarter-on-quarter decrease in the country’s unemployment rate have led to criticism of the country’s economic trajectory.
This comes after Statistician-general Risenga Maluleke released the Quarterly Labour Force Survey statistics for the period between April 1 and June 30, 2023 yesterday.
The Federation of South African Trade Unions (Fedusa), the EFF, the Free Market Foundation and the DA all reacted with shock following the figures released by Statistics South Africa, which indicated that the country’s official unemployment rate has decreased by 0.3 percentage points compared to the previous quarter, with the latest number of unemployed now standing at 32.6%.
Maluleke announced the latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS), which is a household-based sample survey that collects data on the labour market activities of individuals aged 15 and 64.
The number of employed people in the country currently stands at 16.3 million, which is almost at pre-Covid levels, where the figure stood at 16.4 million.
The Free Market Foundation has blamed the country’s low economic growth as the reason for the 0.3% quarter-on-quarter reduction of the country’s official unemployment rate.
David Ansara from The Free Market Foundation said there is no reason to celebrate these low numbers.
“While many commentators have been quick to celebrate the 0.3% reduction in Stats SA’s official unemployment rate, there is no real reason to celebrate as far too many remain excluded from the economy,” Ansara said.
The DA in Gauteng said it was concerned that more than 2.6 million residents of the province, known as the country's economic centre, remain unemployed.
DA shadow MEC for development in the province, Patrick Atkinson, said the unemployed are being let down by the provincial government, which fails to create jobs and a conducive environment for economic growth.
“The QLFS released today indicates that the unemployment rate in the province has increased to 34.4%. Currently, there are 527 000 discouraged job seekers, while unemployment stands at 2.6 million,” Atkinson said.
Fedusa said the 0.3% point in the official and expanded definitions of unemployment means very little to the millions of South Africans languishing in poverty after years of exclusion from the labour market.
The DA has blamed the ANC, led by Premier Panyaza Lesufi, for the job bloodbath in the province.
“It is clear that Lesufi and his executives are not doing enough to ensure a conducive environment for the private sector to invest in the Gauteng economy.
“The only way to boost investor confidence is to ensure that corruption is rooted out and proper regulations are followed when awarding tenders and appointing officials in key positions,” Atkinson added.
The EFF said they are concerned by the country’s youth unemployment, which has not changed in many aspects.
“Youth unemployment statistics continue to be a distressing factor, to the point of being criminal, under the ANC government. Youth aged 15–24 recorded the highest unemployment rate at 60.7%, while the 25–34-year-old age group registered at 39.8%.
“Even more troubling are the number of young people between 15 and 24 years old who are not employed and not in any form of education or training. Out of 10.2 million young people, almost 3.5 million were neither employed nor enrolled in a school or education programme,” the EFF said.