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‘People want jobs, not grants’: Record unemployment rate cuts deep

25 August 2021 - 07:34 By cebelihle bhengu
SA's unemployment rate is now 44.4%, the highest of 82 countries tracked by Bloomberg. File photo.
SA's unemployment rate is now 44.4%, the highest of 82 countries tracked by Bloomberg. File photo.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/Sunday Times

The latest unemployment statistics have left some South Africans with little hope of finding work as the numbers reached a new record high.

Stats SA painted a grim picture of the country’s joblessness with the release on Tuesday of the latest figures from the second quarter of 2021.

It found the unemployment rate hit 34.4% in the second quarter from 32.6% in the first quarter. The number of unemployed people jumped to 7.82 million in the three months to the end of June from 7.24 million in the previous three months.

Stats SA said this is the highest since the quarterly labour force survey began in 2008. 

The expanded unemployment rate, which includes people who are discouraged from seeking work, sits at 44.4% from 43.2% in the first quarter.

The stats agency said the labour market is more favourable to men than women.

Men are more likely to be in paid employment than women regardless of race, while women are more likely than men to be doing unpaid work.

“The unemployment rate among men is lower than among women,” said the report.

 Unemployment among women rose to 36.8% in the second quarter of 2021 compared to 32.4% among men, according to the official definition of unemployment.

During this period there were more unemployed black women (41.0%) compared to white (8.2%), Indian/Asian (22.4%) and coloured women (29.9%).

The statistics come as the government is expected to issue the first payments of the R350 social relief of distress grant which was initially introduced last year to help unemployed citizens deal with the impact of Covid-19.

It expired in April but President Cyril Ramaphosa announced it would be reinstated until March 2022. It is aimed at assisting the unemployed and those affected by the recent unrest and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. 

Some of those who took to social media laid the blame at the feet of Ramaphosa and the ANC, accusing the president of failing to deliver on his promise of eradicating rampant joblessness.