South Africa Unemployment Rate Climbs To 25.2 Percent

May 7, 2013South Africaby EW News Desk Team


More than a quarter of South Africa’s labour force are now out of work, according to official statistics published on Monday, as the country continues to struggle with the global economic recession caused by the 2008 financial crisis.

According to Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), the jobless rate increased from 24.9 percent in the previous three months to 25.2 percent, with the number of people without jobs rising by 100,000 to 4.6 million.

Broader statistics painted an even bleaker picture of the country's chronic unemployment, with nearly 37 percent of South Africans not working, because of age, health or economic reasons.

Stats SA also found that the number of discouraged work seekers, who have given up on finding a job, had increased by 73,000 to 2.3 million people in the first quarter of 2013, highlighting the challenge President Jacob Zuma faces in reducing the nation’s unemployment rate to 14 percent by 2020. 

According to AFP, About 66,000 jobs were lost in the trade sector during the last quarter alone, amid a weakening of the rand that made imports more expensive but should have make South African exports more competitive.

"The increase in the unemployment rate adds to other evidence that the local economy is struggling to pick up," said economists at Nedbank.

"The unemployment rate is likely to remain high in the short term as firms will remain cautious of expanding capacity and employing more people at the current challenging economic and labour environment," they added.

The latest figure is the highest unemployment rate South Africa has faced since 2008. Approximately one million jobs have been lost in South Africa since the financial crisis began.

Although, the Reserve Bank has refrained from lowering borrowing costs to spur job creation and promote borrowing, the nation is still struggling to create jobs amid weak economic growth – expected to reach just 2.6 percent this year, less than half the 7 percent pace the government estimates it needs to meet its jobs pledge.

Among the unemployed, 59.4 percent has less than secondary education, 49.1 percent are female and 70.7 percent are aged between 15-34 years, said the report.

Pali Lehlohla, statistician-general for Stats SA, expressed concern that the nation’s economy would undermine recent attempts to boost education to create more job opportunities for young South Africans.

“Constant and good investment in education will help in lowering unemployment but there is no quick fix”, Lehlohla said, according to The BRICS Post.

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Meanwhile, opposition member and Shadow Minister of Finance Tim Harris from the Democratic Alliance criticised President Jacob Zuma and the African National Congress (ANC) for failing to provide clear steps for the immediate implementation of the national development plan.

Harris said that his party had witnessed concessions given by the ANC to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) on numerous employment issues, including the youth wage subsidy.

"We call on President Zuma to stand up to Cosatu and the South African Communist Party and ensure that pro-growth policies are implemented without any further delay. He must ... tell his alliance partners that the national development plan will be implemented, whether they like it or not," said Harris, in a press release.

But Zuma have asserted that South Africa’s membership of BRICS will eventually provide a sufficient boost to the economy, and by extension the employment opportunities for young South Africans.

“We are certain that BRICS will contribute immensely to satisfying the employment and development needs of our young population,” Zuma said in a speech at the Commonwealth conference in Pretoria in March.

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