Ina Opperman

By Ina Opperman

Business Journalist


Unemployment increased slightly in SA, with youth most affected

The employment data for the fourth quarter of 2023 shows that there has been no growth in overall employment in South Africa.


Unemployment in South Africa increased by 0.2 of a percentage point in the fourth quarter of 2023 from 31.9% in the third quarter to 32.1%, while the unemployment rate according to the expanded definition decreased by 0.1 of a percentage point to 41.1% in the fourth quarter.

According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the fourth quarter released by Statistics SA on Tuesday, the youth, defined as people between the ages of 15 and 34, remain vulnerable in the labour market, with the fourth quarter results showing that the total number of unemployed youth increased by 87 000 to 4.7 million, while there was a decrease of 97 000 in the number of employed youth to 5.9 million.

This resulted in an increase in the youth unemployment rate of 0.9 of a percentage point from 43.4% in the third quarter to 44.3% in the fourth quarter.

The results of the survey indicate that the number of employed people decreased by 22 000 to 16.7 million, while the number of unemployed people increased by 46 000 to 7.9 million.

In addition, the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement increased by 218 000 to 13.4 million, while discouraged work-seekers decreased by 107 000 in the fourth quarter of 2023 compared to the third quarter, resulting in a net increase of 111 000 in the not economically active population.

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Employment: how sectors performed

Employment in the formal sector decreased by 128 000 in the fourth quarter, while informal sector employment increased by 124 000.

The industries that contributed to the net employment decline include community and social services that shed 171 000 jobs, construction that shed 36 000 jobs, agriculture that shed 35 000 jobs, trade that shed 28 000 jobs and manufacturing that shed 1 000 jobs.

However, finance added 128 000 jobs, transport added 57 000 jobs, mining added 37 000 jobs and private households 18 000.

At a provincial level, employment losses were recorded in the Eastern Cape (111 000), Limpopo (40 000), North West (30 000) and Northern Cape (2 000). The largest increases in employment were recorded in KwaZulu-Natal (62 000), followed by Mpumalanga (48 000) and the Western Cape (23 000).