Employment surpasses pre-Covid level in third quarter
The number of people with jobs in SA surpassed the pre-Covid-19 level in the third quarter of this year to hit its highest since 2019, statistics agency data showed on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the official unemployment rate fell to 31.9% from 32.6% in the second quarter, but it remains among the highest in the world.
Stats SA said the July-to-September quarter saw the eighth consecutive employment increase, pointing to an ongoing labour market recovery from the scars of the pandemic.
“This 16.7-million [the number of employed people] actually returns us higher than the pre-Covid levels, which is the first time we are seeing that,” statistician-general Risenga Maluleke said.
Job gains were mainly in the finance, community and social services and agriculture industries.
Sectors like mining and manufacturing have seen a rapid decline in employment in the past decade, and they recorded further job losses in the third quarter. Manufacturing shed 50,000 jobs and mining 35,000, the data showed.
The number of unemployed people was 7.849-million in the third quarter, down from 7.921-million at the end of June.
Under an expanded definition of unemployment that includes people discouraged from seeking work, 41.2% of the labour force was jobless in July-September compared with 42.1% in April-June.
SA is due to hold national elections next year, with high levels of unemployment and weak economic growth perennial hot-button issues at the polls.
Cosatu, the largest trade union federation in the country and an “alliance partner” of the governing ANC, said after Tuesday's unemployment figures that the government needed to “move with speed to fix the obstacles hindering economic growth”.
After its worst-ever election result at municipal elections in 2021, the ANC faces the prospect of having to enter into a national coalition government for the first time since the end of apartheid in 1994.
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