2019 Unemployment Rate in South Africa Sits At 27, 6%
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Unemployment increases in first quarter of 2019

15 May 2019 FINANCE

By Nomali Cele


Scarcely a week after the sixth democratic election, which was mostly carried on the promise of economic growth and job creation, Statistics South Africa has released the Quarterly Labour Force Report, the first for 2019 and the unemployment numbers are up.

Unemployment has always been a problem in a growing democracy with numerous people entering the job market yearly but very little market growth to create new job opportunities. While the government, industry and other stakeholders are constantly talking about the work being done to reduce the unemployment rate and create new opportunities, the success is a drop in the ocean.

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Graphics courtesy of Statistics South Africa

The Quarterly Labour Force Report by Statistics South Africa shows that the unemployment rate is currently at its worst since 2017. This isn’t hard to imagine as the economic situation in the country has been in turmoil. Sitting at 27, 6% in 2019, the unemployment rate in South Africa has gotten worse by 0, 9% year-on-year compared to 2018 (4, 4 million in 2018 quarter one compared to 6, 2 million in 2019 quarter one).

Manufacturing, transport and more showed gains, with the sector being able to create new jobs.

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As of the first quarter of 2019, there are only 16, 3 million South Africans employed. See the simplified report here. For the youth, those under 34 years old, the unemployment rate is at its most high. 15 to 24-year-olds have an unemployment rate of 55, 2% while 34, 2% of 25 to 34-year-olds in South Africa experience unemployment.

Speaking to David O’Sullivan on Breakfast With David, Economist, Thabi Leoka, highlighted that for over 11 years, the South African unemployment statistics have hovered around the 20% mark.

Discouraged job seekers, those of working age but have given up on looking for work are not part of the 27, 6% of the counted unemployed according to Leoka. “This takes the number to 38%,” said Thabi Leoka.

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Leoka also touches on the fact that a majority of young people are 24 years old are not employ, nor are they in education and training, which means a future crisis could be brewing. The increase in the unemployment rate may be small but the overall picture does not look pretty.


Listen to Thabi Leoka unpack the unemployment rate on Breakfast with David:

READ: Minimum Wage in South Africa

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