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Jobless rate at record as work seekers’ ranks grow

29 March 2022 - 13:02 By Monique Vanek and S'thembile Cele
While 262,000 jobs were created in the fourth quarter after the scrapping of almost all coronavirus curbs and economic activity bounced back following the July unrest, that was insufficient to fully offset the additional number of work seekers.
While 262,000 jobs were created in the fourth quarter after the scrapping of almost all coronavirus curbs and economic activity bounced back following the July unrest, that was insufficient to fully offset the additional number of work seekers. 
Image: Bloomberg

SA’s unemployment rate rose to a new high in the fourth quarter as more people started to look for work after coronavirus restrictions were eased and the economy rebounded after the worst riots seen since the end of apartheid.

The jobless rate rose to 35.3%, from 34.9% in the three months through September, Stats SA said on Tuesday in a report released in Pretoria. That’s the highest on a list of 82 countries monitored by Bloomberg — though some of the data is outdated. The median of eight economists’ estimates in a Bloomberg survey was 35.1%.

The jobless rate in Africa’s most-industrialised economy has exceeded 20% for at least two decades while economic growth has averaged 2.3%.

Strict labour laws, stagnant productivity, bureaucratic hurdles and a skills shortage have reduced the ability of SA companies to hire additional workers. 

Unemployment according to the expanded definition, which includes people who were available for work but not looking for a job, fell to 46.2%, from 46.6% in the third quarter.

While 262,000 jobs were created in the fourth quarter after the scrapping of almost all virus curbs and economic activity bounced back after the July unrest, that was insufficient to fully offset the additional number of work seekers. 

Key Figures:

  • private households gained 129,000 jobs;
  • the trade industry added 118,000 jobs;
  • community and social services added 73,000 jobs;
  • agriculture added 38,000 jobs;
  • mining gained jobs 25,000 jobs;
  • the finance industry added 18,000 jobs;
  • manufacturing lost 85,000 jobs;
  • construction lost 25,000 jobs;
  • utilities lost 14,000 jobs; and
  • transport shed 13,000 jobs.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com


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