SA’s Jobless Rate Still Among the Highest in the World, Economist Says


Statistics SA reported on Monday that the unemployment rate dropped from the record high of 35.3 % in the fourth quarter of 2021 to 34.5% in the first quarter of 2022.

The latest data shows that an estimated 370 000 jobs were gained between the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022, according to News24. Most jobs gained were recorded in community and social services, manufacturing and trade. On the other hand, there were job losses in private households, finance, construction and agriculture.

The statistics also show that unemployment was prevalent among youth aged 15 to 24 (63.9%) years and 25 to 34 years (42.1%).

North-West University Business School Economist, Prof Raymond Parsons, says the slightly better news on the unemployment front is a welcome trend, as it comes after a prolonged period of persistent deterioration in SA employment levels in recent times.

He adds that this follows after the country’s strong economic recovery in 2021 from the previous pandemic lockdowns. A lot of people were laid off from their jobs during the pandemic and the economy suffered drastically. 

“There is nonetheless the hope that on certain favourable assumptions unemployment in the country may well now have stabilised at an elevated level. SA’s jobless rate is nevertheless still among the highest in the world,” Parsons says. 

“The massive youth unemployment in SA also remains a big challenge and highlights the scale of what job-creating measures are needed to remedy the situation,” he adds. 

Parsons says the latest figures confirm that SA needs GDP growth rates of 3% to 4% to make a serious dent in unemployment levels.

On the present economic trends GDP growth in 2022 is now likely to be about 1.6%. SA, therefore, needs to break out of its ‘low growth trap’ by collectively expediting the urgent implementation of key economic reforms. SA still needs to maximise the number of jobs created at any given growth rate,” he says. 

By Zintle Nkohla 

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