South Africa’s official unemployment rate rose to more than 30% for the first time since the figures were measured – and this is even in the quarter before the Covid-19 crisis brought the economy to a halt.
Unemployment in the first quarter of 2020 was 30.1%, compared to 29.1% at the end of 2019, Statistics South Africa (SSA) has just announced.
The expanded unemployment rate – which includes discouraged unemployed – has shot up to 39.7%, compared to 38.7% just a quarter earlier.
Statistician general, Risenga Maluleke, points out that the unemployment rate always rises in the first quarter of the year – a combination of new matriculants and students entering the workforce and the temporary employees appointed for the Christmas period, have to look for a new job. Last year, however, there was no increase in appointments in the fourth quarter.
In the formal sector, 50,000 fewer people worked, and agriculture had 21,000 fewer employees. About 30,000 more people worked in private households. In total, the number of people with jobs has decreased by 38,000.
About 7.1 million South Africans are looking for jobs and another 2.9 million have stopped looking for jobs because they have no hope of finding work.
- Of South Africa’s 10.3 million people aged 15 to 24 , 3.5 million or 34.1% are unemployed and not attending school or getting further education. This is an increase of 2.1 percentage points since the fourth quarter of 2019.
- Of the broader group of young people, the 20.4 million people aged 15 to 34 , 8.5 million or 41.7% are unemployed and not attending school or receiving further education. This is an increase of 1.6 percentage points since the fourth quarter of 2019.
- Unemployment varies nationwide from 20.9% in the Western Cape to 40.5% in the Eastern Cape. Compared to the fourth quarter, unemployment rose in all provinces, with the exception of the Western Cape, where it remained unchanged, and Mpumalanga, where it decreased by 0.3%.
- Extensive unemployment ranges from 24.8% in the Western Cape to 48.9% in the Eastern Cape. It increased in each province in the country compared to the previous quarter.