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Tuesday, 14 November 2023 12:32

South Africa's official unemployment rate drops by 0.7%.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

South Africa's unemployment rate fell to 31.9% in the third quarter of this year from 32.6% in the second quarter, statistics agency data showed on Tuesday.

According to Stats SA, the country recorded its eighth consecutive quarter of employment increases, adding 399,000 workers to those who have a job in the country.

Even more positively, the number of employed persons in the country has hit 16.7 million, which is higher than the 16.4 million recorded before the Covid-19 pandemic devastated the country.

However, while the number of employed has surpassed pre-Covid levels, it must be noted that the unemployment rate is still higher – the unemployment rate in Q1 2020 was 30.1% (1.6 percentage points lower), meaning job creation is still not keeping up with the number of people entering the workforce.

Statistician-General, Risenga Maluleke said the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement decreased by 160,000 to 13,1 million.

This while the number of discouraged work-seekers decreased by 26,000 in the third quarter compared to the second quarter of 2023. 

"This resulted in a net decrease of 186,000 in the not economically active population.

The above changes in employment and unemployment resulted in the official unemployment rate decreasing by 0,7 of a percentage point from 32,6% in the second quarter of 2023 to 31,9% in the third quarter of 2023. 

"The unemployment rate, according to the expanded definition, decreased by 0,9 of a percentage point to 41,2% in the third quarter of 2023 compared to quarter two of 2023," said Maluleke.

He said the formal sector employment increased by 287,000 in the third quarter.

"The following industries, finance (up by 237 000), community and social services (up by 119 000) and agriculture (up by 61 000) recorded the largest employment gains.

"Employment losses were recorded in manufacturing (down by 50 000), mining (down by 35 000), transport (down by 20 000) and utilities (down by 16 000)."

Maluleke said while the youth remain vulnerable in the labour market,  the third quarter of 2023 results show that the total number of unemployed youth decreased by 174,000 to 4,6 million, while there was an increase of 237,000 in the number of employed youth to six million. 

"This resulted in a decrease in the youth unemployment rate by 1,9 percentage points from 45,3% in Q2:2023 to 43,4% in Q3:2023."

Looking on a per province basis, KwaZulu-Natal (up 152,000), Limpopo (up 70,000), North-West (up 61,000) and Mpumalanga (up 44,000) saw the largest employment number increases during the quarter.

The Free State (down 3,000) was the only province to see employment losses during Q3.