The national statistics agency revealed that the official unemployment rate increased by one percentage point to a record 30.1 percent of the labour force in the first quarter of this year compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.
In its quarter labour force survey, Statistics South Africa said the number of employed people decreased by 38,000 to 16.4 million while that of the jobless increased by 344,000 to 7.1 million between the fourth and first quarters.
This resulted in a rise of 306,000 in the labour force.
South Africa’s unemployment rate increase by 1,0 percentage point to 30,1% in Q1:2020 compared to Q4:2019. The unemployment rate usually increases between Q4 and Q1 each year.
— Stats SA (@StatsSA) June 23, 2020
“The largest employment decreases were observed in the formal sector (50,000), followed by the agricultural sector with 21,000 in Q1 2020,” Stats SA said.
“On the other hand, employment in the informal sector and private households increased by 3,000 and 30,000 respectively.
Effectively, the number of unemployed people in South Africa has soared to 7.1 million from 4.6 million a decade ago.
Stats SA said over 8.5 million or 41.7 percent of South Africa’s 20.4 million young people aged 15-34 years were neither employed nor getting education or training of any kind, a 1.1 percentage point increase over the same quarter last year.
The number of employed persons decreased in five of South Africa’s nine provinces, with the largest declines recorded in the Free State, North West and Western Cape.
Compared the same quarter last year, the largest increases in employment were recorded in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, followed by Mpumalanga and the and Northern Cape.
South Africa’s economy has already starting shedding jobs in the fallout from the prevailing global Covid-19 pandemic which initially brought business activity to a near-total standstill when the government imposed a nationwide lockdown from March 27 to try and limit transmissions of the virus.
People quickly took to twitter in reaction to the statistics.
— Best Selling Author (@MeshackBevhula) June 23, 2020
Q1 2020 #unemployment figures is the horror movie trailer.
Q2 2020 is when you see the real bloodbath.
— Koshiek Karan (@iamkoshiek) June 23, 2020
— Iebogang S (@XMAN_FRESH) June 23, 2020
— The black mermaid. (@paballo_patsa) June 23, 2020
In a weekly newsletter on Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa warned that the economy was set for a tough period ahead, with predictions of businesses shutting down and people losing their jobs now materialising.
-ANA, Editing by Stella Mapen