Tuesday, 29 March 2022 12:16

Unemployment rate rises to 35.3% in 2021’s fourth quarter.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Statistics South Africa has published the latest unemployment numbers for the fourth quarter of 2021, showing that South Africa’s unemployment rate has now hit 35.3%.

This is the highest point since the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) was started, the statistics body said in a statement on Tuesday (29 March).

Over the period, South Africa’s working-age population increased by 140,000 people, while approximately 400,000 previously not economically people re-entered the workforce.

Of these, 260,000 people found employment, while 280,000 remained unemployed. The specific data points are:

  • The 15 to 64 population group increased by 143,000 to 39.9 million;
  • The number of the not economically active population decreased by 397,000 to 17.4 million;
  • The number of unemployed persons increased by 278,000 to 7.9 million in Q4 2021;
  • The number of employed persons increased by 262,000 to 14.5 million;

The number of discouraged work-seekers decreased by 56,000 (1.4%) and the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement decreased by 341,000 (2.4%) between the two quarters, Stats SA said.

While both the unemployed and employed figures increased, the data shows that South Africa is simply not creating enough jobs for new entrants or to make up for existing losses.

"These changes in the labour market resulted in the official unemployment rate increasing by 0.4 of a percentage point from 34.9% in the third quarter of 2021 to 35.3% in the fourth quarter of 2021 – the highest since the start of the QLFS in 2008," Statistics South Africa said.

"The unemployment rate according to the expanded definition of unemployment decreased by 0.4 of a percentage point to 46.2% in Q4 2021 compared to Q3 2021."

Notably, the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape recorded expanded unemployment rates above 50% in Q4 2021.

The formal sector in South Africa accounts for 67,2% of total employment.

Approximately 3.4 million (32.8%) out of 10,2 million young people aged 15-24 years were not in employment, education or training (NEET).

However, the data also shows that the level of a person’s education has a direct impact on their ability to find work. The graduate’s unemployment rate (11.8%) is 23.5% points lower than the national official unemployment rate.

The data also shows qualified SoutAfricans were the least likely to have a pay cut due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  About 9 in 10 graduates received their full salary in both Q3 2021 and Q4 2021. The share of graduates receiving full salary remained unchanged between Q3 2021 and Q4 2021.