Cheryl Kahla
Deputy Online News Editor
2 minute read
24 Aug 2021
11:39 am

Jobless nation: Unemployment rate’s new highs – 14.9 million out of work

Cheryl Kahla

Unrest, unfortunately, impacts both the employment rate and future investments in the economy.

Photo: istock

Statistics South Africa on Tuesday released its second-quarter labour force survey, which includes shocking news about South Africa’s latest unemployment rate.

The unemployment rate during the first quarter was the highest it’s even been since 2008 – a whopping 32.6%, but it only escalates from there.

While the pandemic played a role in the first quarter’s stats, analysts predict the recent spate of unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng would likely be reflected in the second-quarter report.

SA’s unemployment rate

Head of Wits Business School, Professor Jannie Rossouw, said on Tuesday: “Some businesses were forced to close [during the unrest]. It was therefore not possible for those people to keep their employment”.

“It is true that any unrest in an economy has negative impacts, not only on employment but also in respect of future investment in the economy; there will be a knock-on effect for months to come”.

As confirmed by Stats SA, South Africa’s unemployment rate increased by 1.8 percentage points to 34,4%.

“The results […] for the second quarter of 2021 show that the number of employed persons decreased by 54,000 in the second quarter of 2021 to 14,9 million.”

Unemployment rate during first quarter

As of the first quarter, South Africa’s unemployment rate stood at 32.6%, with a staggering 7.2 million unemployed citizens, most under the age of 34.

“The official unemployment rate among youth (15-34 years) was 46.3% in Quarter 1. The rate was 9.3% among university graduates”.

South Africa recorded a job loss of nearly 28,000 during the first quarter, while the labour force fell by approximately 20,000, making it the highest recorded rate since 1994 (32.5%)

“Some industries created jobs while others lost jobs between quarter four 2020 and quarter one 2021, resulting in a net decline of 28,000 in total employment,” Stats SA said.

ALSO READ: SA official unemployment rate hits record high of 32.6%

Covid-19 pandemic impact

The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown had an impact on an already crippled job market, with nearly all South African industries reporting a drop in output during the 2020 cycle.

Construction was hit the hardest and recorded its eighth consecutive decline with 76.6%, while restaurants and eateries took a 99.9% knock during what has now been referred to as the ‘pandemic quarter’.

“Restrictions necessary to combat Covid-19 created an obstacle to normal data collection approaches and operations”, Stats SA said.

Unfortunately, the second wave – and now the third wave driven by the Delta variant – means the economy is set to recover at an even slower pace.

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