Black university graduates continue to have the highest unemployment rate of all races, suggesting discrimination in the education or employment system, according to Statistician-General Pali Lehohla.
At a briefing in Pretoria on Tuesday on the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, Lehohla said 18.8% of black youths aged between 15 and 34 years were unemployed, compared to 4.7% of whites and 3.8% of coloureds in the last quarter of 2016.
“Once they are between 24 and 34 years, the unemployment rate continues to drop, especially for blacks. It is not because there are more black people in the country. We have standardised them [results] to the ratio.”
The cause was not clear, but factors including racism and the poor quality of education should be examined, he said.
“Parents spend money on certificates and qualifications with no returns, especially for blacks.
“There are many factors to consider. Let’s assume they [black youth] did the same qualifications [as other races], then that means the cause [of unemployment] is racism. There is a clear need for intervention,” he said.
The youth remained vulnerable in the labour market, Lehohla added, with a total unemployment rate of 37.1%, which was 10.6 percentage points above the national average.
“However, youth unemployment registered a decline of 1.1 percentage points quarter-to-quarter.”
The survey results also indicated employment grew by 235 000 and the number of job seekers declined by 92 000, resulting in a slight decline in the unemployment rate by 0.6 of percentage point to 25%.
The increase in employment was driven by the services industry, which added 73 000 jobs, followed by the transport and manufacturing industry which added 46 000 and 44 000, respectively.
“The official unemployment rate declined… to 26.5%, however, this is still 2.0 percentage points higher compared to the same period in the previous year.”
The expanded unemployment, which includes those who want to work but did not look for jobs, also decreased by a 0.7 of a percentage point to 116 000.