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SA’s unemployment rate hits a 13-year high

01 June 2017 - 15:08 By Sunita Menon
An unemployed young South African pleads for money or food at a Johannesburg street corner.
An unemployed young South African pleads for money or food at a Johannesburg street corner.

Unemployment in SA is at its highest level since September 2003.

The economy added 144 000 jobs during the first quarter but this was offset by the number of job-seekers surging by 433 000 people.

The unemployment rate of 27.7% in the first quarter was up 1.2 percentage points from the fourth quarter of 2016.

"The gap in reaching the 2030 National Development Plan target of 24-million employed people is now 7.8-million‚" statistician-general Pali Lehohla said at the release of Statistics SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey on Thursday.

Growth in employment was seen in all industries except agriculture‚ trade and services.

Employment was boosted by growth in the manufacturing sector‚ which added 62 000 jobs‚ and in the finance and other business services categories‚ which added 49 000 employees. Mining added 26 000 jobs.

The youth unemployment rate rose by 1.6 percentage points to 38.6%‚ with 58% of unemployed people aged between 15 and 34.

"It’s very important‚ that the unemployment in these two age groups — of 15-24 and 25-35 — has increased. Once they’re unemployed for a period of time‚ things are getting harder and harder for them to get jobs‚" said Lehohla.

Unemployment was high‚ at 33.1%‚ among people who had less than a matric‚ 5.4 percentage points higher than the national average. Unemployment among graduates remained at 7.3%.

Unemployment increased and remained unchanged in all the provinces except the Northern Cape which decreased.

Of the people who did not have work‚ 9.3-million wanted work in the first quarter; while those who wanted work but did not look for work increased by 391‚000 people.

The expanded unemployment rate was 36.4%.

Officially 6.2-million people were unemployed‚ of whom 29.8% were female — which Lehohla referred to as “the feminisation of unemployment”.

- TMG Digital/BusinessLIVE