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SA’s official unemployment rate hits new record

SA’s official unemployment rate hits new record

South Africa’s official unemployment rate hit a record high of 32,5% in the fourth quarter of 2020 as the job shedding bloodbath continued with more than 300 000 people slipping into the growing ranks of the jobless.

Statistics SA’s latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the fourth quarter of 2020 showed that the number of employed persons increased by 333 000 to 15 million in the fourth quarter of 2020, while the number of unemployed persons rose by 701 000 to 7,2 million.

The working-age population increased by 143 000 or 0,4% in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared to the third quarter of the same year, while the working-age population increased by 583 000 or 1,5% compared to the same quarter in 2019.

This represents an increase of 4,9% compared to the third quarter of 2020, resulting in an increase of one million, up by 4,9%, in the number of people in the labour force.

“The number of discouraged work-seekers increased by 235 000 (8,7%), and the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement decreased by 1,1 million (7,4%) between the two quarters, resulting in a net decrease of 890 000 in the not economically active population,” Statistics SA said.

“The movement was proportionately more towards the unemployed than for the employed, which resulted in a significant increase of 1,7 percentage points in the official unemployment rate to 32,5% – the highest since the start of the QLFS in 2008.”

Statistics SA’s latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey shows that the unemployment rate according to the expanded definition of unemployment decreased by 0,5 % to 42,6% in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared to the previous quarter.

There was a net decrease of 1,4 million in total employment in the fourth quarter of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019, largely due to losses in the number of people employed in the Finance (256 000), Community and social services (241 000), Manufacturing (230 000), Trade (186 000) and Construction (184 000) industries.

“The number of unemployed persons increased by 7,5% (507 000), while the number of persons who were not economically active increased by 9,5% (1,5 million).

The largest decreases in employment were recorded in Gauteng (down by 528 000), KwaZulu-Natal (down by 210 000), Western Cape (down by 180 000), Eastern Cape (down by 148 000) and Limpopo (down by 119 000).

The Northern Cape recorded the least decrease in the number of employed persons at 27 000, and the Eastern Cape had the biggest change in employment with a decline of 10,7%, followed by Gauteng with a decline of 10,4%,” Stats SA said.

The largest employment increases were observed in the formal sector (189 000), followed by the Private households (76 000), the informal sector (65 000) and the Agricultural sector (2 000).


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