Citizen Reporter
2 minute read
30 Nov 2021
3:10 pm

Unemployment rate: Joblessness among SA youth hits record high

Citizen Reporter

At 34.9%, South Africa's unemployment rate is at its highest level since 2008.

A sign on a factory gate in Anderbolt, Boksburg. 12 November 2020. Picture: Neil McCartney

South Africa’s unemployment rate now sits at 34.9% in the third quarter of 2021, compared to 34.4% in the second quarter.

This is according to Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), who released the figures on Tuesday, 30 November.

At 34.9%, the unemployment rate is at its highest level since the start of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) in 2008.

The number of employed people decreased by 660,000 in the third quarter to 14.3 million, while 7.6 million people who are actively looking for employment are without a job.

This decreased by 183,000 of unemployed people when compared to 7.8 million in the second quarter.

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Unemployment under the expanded definition – which includes discouraged jobseekers who have given up looking for work – increased by 2.2 percentage points to 46.6% in the third quarter compared to the second quarter.

The number of discouraged jobseekers also increased by 545,000 to 3.9 million.

While informal sector employment increased by 0.3% in the third quarter, employment decreased by 571,000 (5.6%) in the formal sector.

All industries experienced job losses between the second and third quarters – except the finance industry, which gained 138,000 jobs. 

The latest numbers also showed that the South African employment market was “more favourable to men than it is to women”.

The unemployment rate among men was 32.9% in the third quarter, compared to 37.3% among women.

Joblessness among black African women stands at a rate of 41% compared to 9.9% among white women, 25.2% among Indian and Asian women and 29.1% among coloured women.

This is 4.2 percentage points higher than the national average for women.

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Young people – aged between 15-24 years and 25-34 years – recorded the highest unemployment rates of 66.5% and 43.8% respectively.

Responding to questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in August, Deputy President David Mabuza said government was working towards addressing youth employment in the country.

The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown had an impact on an already crippled job market.

There were 12.4 million persons who were expected to work by their companies and did some work during lockdown in the third quarter.

Some of the people with jobs indicated that they were expected to work during lockdown in the third quarter, however, they could not do any work during that period.

Approximately 88% of these people cited the lockdown as the main reason for not actually working, which is 33.0 percentage points higher than in the second quarter.

Health reasons were cited by 5.7% of the employed people while the rest indicated that they did not work due to family responsibility (1.9%) or work shift arrangements (4.4%).