News Analysis

SA’S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE SPIKES

When SA sneezes, Lesotho catches a cold

South Africa’s economic growth has become so important for the regional economy, and particularly for Lesotho – an enclave, completely surrounded by South Africa, that when Mzansi sneezes, the Mountain Kingdom stand a chance of catching a cold.

So it is with some foreboding that Lesotho watches South Africa’s economic growth slowly stutters.
The unemployment rate in South Africa has seen its highest increase since 2017, according to Statistics South Africa’s recently-released quarterly labour survey for the first three months of 2019.

According to the survey, which was released on Tuesday, the unemployment rate increased by 0.5% between the first quarter of 2019 and the last quarter of 2018. This is the highest recorded increase since the third quarter of 2017.

South Africa’s unemployment rate now stands at 27.6%, up 0.9% from the first quarter on 2018.

StatsSA’s quarterly labour survey collects information from approximately 30 000 households and collects data on the labour market activities of individuals.

The number of employed persons decreased by 237 000 and the number of unemployed persons increased by 62 000, Stats SA found. This has resulted in a decrease of 176 000 in the number of people in South Africa’s labour force.

Between the two quarters, the number of employed persons decreased in six of the ten industries, with the largest decrease recorded in construction.
However, employment gains were recorded in transport, trade, utilities and manufacturing.

According to Stats SA, the number of employed persons decreased in all nine provinces between the two quarters. The largest employment decreases were recorded in Limpopo, the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.

Limpopo and the Eastern Cape are the two most poverty-stricken provinces in South Africa. According to StatsSA’s 2017 poverty report both provinces remained among since 2001.

The survey also found that South Africa’s unemployment rate has remained high, at 34.2% for 25 to 34 year olds and 55.2% for 15 to 24 year olds.

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