7 May 2013
South Africa’s unemployment rate rose to 25.2% in the first quarter of 2013 following a decline in the fourth quarter of 2012, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) reported on Monday.
“Unemployment increased by 100 000 to 4.6-million resulting in an increase in the unemployment rate to 25.2%,” Stats SA’s Kefiloe Masiteng said at the release of the latest quarterly labour force survey.
The household-based sample survey collects data on the labour market activities of individuals aged 15 years and above who live in South Africa.
The proportion of South Africa’s labour force that is unemployed declined from 25.5% in the third quarter to 24.9% in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Stats SA defines an unemployed person as someone aged between 15 to 64 who was not employed in the reference week of survey, was actively looking for work in the four weeks preceding the survey, and was available for work or for starting a business.
According to the survey, the number of discouraged work seekers – people who were not employed during the reference period, and who wanted to work but did not take active steps to find work due to no jobs being available – increased by 73 000 to 2.3-million people between the fourth quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013.
The expanded unemployed rate stood at 36.7% in the first quarter, the highest it has been since 2008. The expanded unemployment rate includes those who have stopped looking for work.
South Africa’s economy lost about one-million jobs in the global recession; the country’s highest level of employment (before the recession), at 14-million, was seen in the fourth quarter of 2008.
There were a total 13.6-million people employed in the country in the first quarter of 2013.
“Since the lowest level of employment in the third quarter of 2010 (at 12.9-million), the economy has created 646 000 jobs. This is still 406 000 jobs lower than the levels observed in the fourth quarter of 2008,” Stats SA said.
The proportion of those who are employed or looking for work (the labour force participation rate) among the country’s working age population declined by 3.6% to 54.8% between the first quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2013.
The survey also found that the country’s formal and informal sectors contracted by 0.3% (25 000 jobs) and 0.6% (13 000 jobs) respectively between quarter four 2012 and quarter one 2013.
However, both sectors grew by 0.8% and 4.1% respectively compared to a year ago (quarter one 2012).
Six industries contributed positively to the net gain of 44 000 jobs observed in the first quarter on a quarter-to-quarter basis. The biggest contributors were agriculture followed by community and social services.
Earlier on Monday, in a research note, Absa Capita said it had expected a rise in the unemployment rate due to weak growth and labour-shedding in the private sector, particularly in the mining sector.
“Last year, the unemployment rate rose by a full percentage point to 24.9% over the course of 2012. In fact, we think the unemployment rate rose further in quarter one because quarter four typically sees a seasonal uptick in employment,” Absa Capital said.