Unemployment has gone down marginally, but 11.7 million people are still unemployed in South Africa, according to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the first quarter of 2022 issued by Statistics SA on Monday. The total number of employed people in the first quarter was 14.9 million.
The official unemployment rate for the first quarter was 34.5% in the first quarter of 2022, a decrease of 0.8 of a percentage point from 35.3% in the fourth quarter, while the unemployment rate according to the expanded definition of unemployment also decreased by 0.7 of a percentage point to 45.5 % compared to the previous quarter.
The results of the QLFS indicate that 370,000 jobs were gained in the first quarter of 2022, with the most jobs added in community and social services (281,000), manufacturing (263,000) and trade (98,000). The expanded unemployment rate, which includes job seekers who have given up looking for work, declined for the second quarter from 46.2% to 45.4%.
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The number of unemployed people decreased by 60,000 to 7.9 million, while the number of discouraged work-seekers decreased by 54,000 (1.4%) and the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement decreased by 112,000 (0.8%), a net decrease of 166,000 in the population who are not economically active.
The unemployment rate according to the expanded definition of unemployment also decreased by 0.7 of a percentage point to 45.5 % compared to the fourth quarter. However, jobs were lost in private households (186,000), finance (72,000), construction (60,000) and agriculture (23,000).
Unfortunately, the youth employment figure remains concerning. Although there was a slight decline in the number of unemployed youth in the first quarter, the youth remained vulnerable in the labour market.
During the first quarter the total number of unemployed youth between the ages of 15 and 34 declined by 0.1% (5,000) to 4.7 million in the fourth quarter and a noticeable increase in the number of youth in employment of 5.0% (244,000), resulting in a decrease in youth unemployment of 1.2 percentage points to 47.8% in the first quarter.
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Leave employment to the private sector
Prof. Jannie Rossouw, visiting professor at the Wits Business School, says there is no reason to feel positive about the latest unemployment statistics.
“Unemployment is still a major problem in South Africa and I hope government will start to wake up to deregulate the business environment and make it easier to do business in the country.”
He reiterated that South Africa is still not creating enough employment opportunities and believes that it will only change once government leaves creating jobs for the private sector as the minister of finance, Enoch Godongwana said in his budget speech in February.