There are 20.1 million economically active people in South Africa

27 October 2014 - 17:22 By Sapa
CLAMOURING FOR WORK: The challenge of South Africa's unemployment needs a rethink of job creation strategies. Picture: DANIEL BORN
CLAMOURING FOR WORK: The challenge of South Africa's unemployment needs a rethink of job creation strategies. Picture: DANIEL BORN

South Africa has 20.1 million economically active people but the country's labour absorption rate has remained stagnant at around 42.8 percent, according to the Annual Labour Market Bulletin.

The report, released by the labour department, noted that this lagged well behind the international average of about 60 percent.

"South Africa's economically active population is growing, an indication that more people are coming into the labour force. Unfortunately, the growth in the number of economically active population does not correlate with the growth in the number of jobs created year-on-year," the report said.

The department's Employment Services for South Africa recorded 607,229 new job seekers in the past financial year, of which only 2.5 percent were placed in positions in the same period.

"In this regard, the role of the Public Employment Services (PES) can be harnessed in finding work in particular for young people," it added, noting that this had helped curb youth unemployment in countries such as Germany and China.

Gauteng was the province that recorded the highest share of work seekers, with 23 percent, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 18.1 percent.

According to the report, the number of economically active people had grown consistently in five provinces -- Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, North West, and the Western Cape -- since September 2011.

It said slow economic growth remained the biggest impediment to job creation, and warned that for the foreseeable future it seemed destined to remain sluggish globally, complicating the task of generating jobs.

"Sustainable economic growth, restoring the country's competitiveness in the global economy and better matching of the work-seekers with the jobs are required for government to be able to find employment for more than five million unemployed people," the report stated.

It recorded a sharp increase in trade union membership, which grew by 22.6 percent in the last financial year, compared to a 10 percent dip the year before that.

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