30 October 2009
South Africa’s unemployment rate increased by 0.9% to 24.9% in the third quarter of 2009, compared to 23.6% in the second quarter, according to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) on Thursday.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan made it clear this week, while announcing his medium-term budget for 2009 to 2011, that job-creation is the government’s top priority and one of the biggest challenges facing the country.
He said the government aimed to create 4.5-million short-term jobs through public works over the next five years, while rationalising its incentives for businesses to create more jobs, and supporting labour-intensive infrastructure projects.
Stats SA’s survey showed that employment contracted by 3.6% in the third quarter, translating into a loss of 484 000 jobs. Of these, 283 000 were in the formal sector (excluding agriculture), with the manufacturing and wholesale industries recording the highest losses.
South Africa’s formal sector accounted for 70.4% of the country’s total employment, the informal sector for 15.5%, and private households for 9%, while agriculture accounted for 5.1%.
The number of discouraged job seekers in the country increased by 7.6% or 115 000 in the third quarter.
Stats SA deputy director-general Kefiloe Masiteng said the figures indicated a shift from employment into unemployment, discouragement and inactivity. “More people have become more inactive,” Masiteng said.
Employment was down across all nine provinces except for KwaZulu-Natal, where it remained virtually unchanged. Gauteng province suffered the highest job losses, at 234 000.
The unemployment rate was highest among 15- to 24-year-olds, at 48.4 percent, and lowest among 55- to 64-year-olds, at 6.8 percent. Of South Africa’s estimated 49.3-million people, around 31-million are between 15 and 24 years old.