South Africa’s unemployment rate dropped slightly to 32.6% in the second quarter but trade unions say the slight boost in employment is not enough to make a real difference to boost the economy.
According to Statistics South Africa’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) released this week, the official unemployment rate decreased by 0.3% from a record high of 32.9% in the first quarter. The number of employed people increased by 154 000 to 16.3 million in the second quarter of 2023 compared to the first quarter, while the number of unemployed persons decreased to 7.9m. The number of economically inactive people for reasons other than discouragement increased by 93 000 to 13.3m.
United Association of South Africa spokesperson Abigail Moyo said that while the increase in employment was pleasing, the unemployment rate of 32.6% in the current economic climate was unacceptable as millions of people were slipping into poverty.
“Although the decrease points to some progress in economic activity, more must be done to lower the unemployment rate and build the economy. The current unemployment rate is comparatively equal to that of June 2021, a time when the country and economy were direly affected by Covid-19. Two years later, the economy is still depreciating with little to account for growth and job creation,” Moyo said.
She added that the youth remained vulnerable in the labour market, with an unemployment rate of 45.3%. The total number of unemployed youth (15-34 years) decreased by 131 000 to 4.7m, while the number of employed youth increased by 105 000 to 5.7m during the second quarter, leading to a 1% drop in youth unemployment for the period.
“Our country has been battling unemployment for some years with no hope for change. A whopping 4.7m young people are unemployed, desperately seeking employment. We demand a solution to the joblessness that has left countless South Africans on the brink of poverty,” she said.