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Unemployment rate falls to 34.5%

First decline since 2020

31 May 2022 - 12:44 By Monique Vanek and Semakaleng Motsoere
SA's unemployment rate fell for the first time in seven quarters as the manufacturing and mining industries added jobs and government employed more people through its public works programme. File photo.
SA's unemployment rate fell for the first time in seven quarters as the manufacturing and mining industries added jobs and government employed more people through its public works programme. File photo.
Image: Bloomberg

SA’s unemployment rate fell for the first time in seven quarters as the manufacturing and mining industries added jobs to meet demand for commodities stoked by Russia’s war with Ukraine and the government employed more people through its public works programme.

The jobless rate fell to 34.5%, from 35.3% in the final three months of 2021, Stats SA said on Tuesday in a report released in Pretoria. That’s the first drop since the second quarter of 2020, when job seekers were hindered by one of the world’s strictest lockdowns to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The median of four economists’ estimates in a Bloomberg survey was 35.4%.

Unemployment, according to the expanded definition, which includes people who were available for work but not looking for a job, fell to 45.5%, from 46.2% in the fourth quarter. 

SA’s unemployment rate remains the highest on a list of 82 countries monitored by Bloomberg, though some of the data is outdated. Strict labour laws, stagnant productivity, bureaucratic hurdles and a skills shortage have reduced the ability of many SA companies to hire additional workers. 

The recovery in the unemployment rate may be short-lived as a record number of electricity outages forecast for this year, the worst flooding in almost three decades in KwaZulu-Natal in April, a slowdown in global output, rising interest rates and surging fuel and food prices caused by extreme weather and the war in Ukraine are likely to weigh on economic growth and job creation.

Key figures:

  • employed rose by 370,000 to 14.9-million;
  • unemployed fell by 60,000 to 7.86-million;
  • community, social services added 281,000 jobs;
  • manufacturing gained 263,000 jobs;
  • trade industry added 98,000 jobs;
  • mining added 36,000 jobs;
  • utilities added 21,000 jobs;
  • transport gained 10,000 jobs;
  • private households lost 186,000 jobs;
  • finance industry lost 72,000 jobs;
  • construction lost 60,000 jobs; and
  • agriculture lost 23,000 jobs.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com


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