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Unemployment rate hikes into 2024 despite government electioneering

  • The South African unemployment rate has increased heading into 2024.
  • There are now nearly 8 million South Africans without jobs.
  • The recent stats fly in the face of consistent claims by those in power that job opportunities are being made available to South Africans.

Despite recent statements from those in government like President Cyril Ramaphosa and Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi, the official unemployment statistics of South Africa show that the unemployment rate has actually increased as of the end of 2023.

At the 2024 State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Cyril Ramaphosa declared that government had created more than 1.7 million work and livelihood opportunities. He also said that South Africans in employment had increased from 8 million in 1994 to over 16 million in 2024, leaving out the fact that the country’s population has ballooned to 60 million people compared to 43 million in 1994.

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi said in his State of the Province Address (SOPA) for Gauteng on Monday that the provincial government had seen the employment of close to 90 000 young people thanks to its many initiatives, with a further 40 000 targetted to find jobs before April 2024.

These efforts have not been enough, as Statistics South Africa’s latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the end of 2023 shows that the number of unemployed persons in the country increased by 46 000 to nearly 8 million.

“Additionally, the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement increased by 218 000 to 13,4 million,” the group indicated. Not only are more people without jobs, but thousands lost employment heading into 2024 with the number of employed persons decreasing to 16.7 million.

The amount of people in South Africa who are not economically active increased by 111 000 heading into 2024. To make matters worse, as the percentage of the population not working increased, the amount of people that can work increased by 136 000 according to Stats SA.

In fact, Stats SA’s figures show, despite consistent government assertions that it is handing out jobs left, right and centre, that the chance of people finding jobs is decreasing over time. In a graph, we can see that after the pandemic of 2020, jobs went up and have steadily declined up until Q4 2023.

Graph sourced from Stats SA.

Another cause for concern is that individuals with matric or lower qualifications are struggling more to find jobs heading into 2024.

“Unemployment rates for those with matric or lower educational qualifications exceeded the national rate, whereas individuals with other tertiary qualifications and graduates had rates below the national unemployment rate,” Stats SA indicated.

Overall, the research group says that year on year, the unemployment rate decreased for all education levels, with “a substantial decline observed among graduates.”

The 2024 general elections have been said to be among South Africa’s most vital and contested since 1994 and the fall of the apartheid government. The date for the elections has yet to be set with some projections looking at it being held sometime in April, but more than 1.1 million people have already registered online to vote.

[Image – CC BY-ND 2.0 GovernmentZA on Flickr]

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