Only 42.5% of working-age South Africans employed
South Africa is in a high unemployment state, statistician general Pali Lehohla said on Thursday.
"The story line in South Africa is that we are in a high unemployment state, over a very long period of time from 2008, and we can go back to 2001," he said at the release of Stats SA's 2014 third quarter labour force survey in Pretoria.
"We have been swimming in that state for quite some time. Those who are in non-permanent employment are really vulnerable... When you don't work you lose skills and you lose capacity to perform, and then you become less employable."
Those who did not work faced a downward cycle and as a result of not working were feeling the creeping effects of poverty.
Out of a working population of 35.5 million people, aged between 15 and 64, 20.3m formed the labour force, while 15.2m people were not economically active, of which 2.5m were discouraged job seekers.
A total of 15.1m people had jobs in South Africa in the third quarter of 2014, and 5.2m were unemployed.
Of the 15.1m employed, 10.8m were employed in the formal sector and 2.4m in the informal sector. A total of 670,000 people were employed in the agricultural sector while 1.29m were employed in private households.
The labour force participation rate, being the total labour force divided by the working age population, was 57.1 percent, a 0.2 percent drop from the second quarter.
The absorption rate, being the total number of employed divided by the working age population, was 42.6 percent, a 0.1 percent drop from the second quarter.
Among those employed, 23.2 percent were employed in the community and social services sector, 21.1 percent in the trade sector, 13.4 percent in the finance sector, 11.5 percent in manufacturing, and 8.5 percent in construction.
Private households contributed 7.8 percent of employed people, while transport was 6.2 percent, agriculture 4.5 percent, mining 2.9 percent, and utilities 0.8 percent.
Of the working age population, 27.8 percent of woman were officially unemployed, a 0.3 percent decrease from the second quarter of 2014, while 23.4 percent of men were officially unemployed.
Unemployed persons were those aged 15 to 64 years of age actively looking for work or who tried starting a business in the weeks preceding Stats SA's survey.
When using the expanded unemployment rate, 39.9 percent of women and 32.3 percent of men were unemployed.
The expanded unemployment rate included those no longer actively searching for work.