Unemployment rate now 34.9%, the highest since Stats SA began recording in 2008

Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) has released its latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the third quarter of 2021. Looking at the unemployment rate between July and September of this year, the organisation confirms that we have recorded another poor quarter.

In fact, it is the highest recorded unemployment rate that Stats SA has shared since compiling these QLFS reports in 2008.

To that end, the current unemployment rate is now 34.9 percent, up 0.5 from the previous quarter.

Unpacking the key findings Stats SA says that the number of employed people decreased by 660 000 in the third quarter of 2021 to 14.3 million.

Crucially, however, under its expanded definition, “the number of discouraged work-seekers increased by 545 000 (16,4%) and the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement increased by 443 000 (3,3%) between the two quarters resulting in a net increase of 988 000 in the not economically active population,” the organisation points out.

This resulted in the unemployment rate sitting where it currently is.

Along with these latest figures, the statistics agency also noted how men and women fared in the workplace, with the latter being less favoured than the other.

“The proportion of men in employment is higher than that of women; more men than women are participating in the labour market as the labour force participation rate of men is higher than that of women; and the unemployment rate among men is lower than among women,” explained Stats SA in a press statement (PDF).

“The unemployment rate among women was 37.3% in the third quarter of 2021 compared to 32.9% among men according to the official definition of unemployment. The official unemployment rate among black African women was 41.5% during this period compared to 9.9% among white women, 25.2% among Indian/ Asian women and 29.1 among coloured women,” it added.

Given that August was Women’s Month locally, and the positive trajectory of women in the workplace being an issue that all companies should prioritise, these findings are extremely concerning.

With the pandemic continuing and a fourth wave predicted in December, the outlook for the next quarter is not promising either.

[Image – Photo by Keenan Constance on Unsplash]


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