SA hits record unemployment rate

South Africa’s unemployment rate reached a record 34.9% for the third quarter – half a percentage point higher than in the second quarter.

This is the highest number since the start of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) in 2008.

The quarter’s economic performance was hit by civil unrest in July affecting Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal – these two provinces account for half of the country’s economic activity.

The expanded unemployment rate – which includes discouraged work seekers who have given up looking for work – increased by 2.2 percentage points to 46.6% in the third quarter.

There was a sharp 16% increase in the number of discouraged work seekers (545 000).

While informal sector employment increased by 0.3% in the third quarter, employment decreased by 571 000 (5.6%) in the formal sector.

All industries experienced job losses between the second and third quarters – except the finance industry which gained 138 000 jobs.

The unemployment rate among women was 37.3% in the third quarter of 2021 compared to 32.9% among men. Black African women (41.5% unemployment) were hardest hit, compared to 9.9% among white women, 25.2% among Indian/Asian women and 29.1% among coloured women.

Some 3.4 million (33.5%) out of 10.2 million young people aged between 15 to 24 years were not in employment, education or training.


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