Too soon to celebrate unemployment rate decrease, says SAFTU

The trade union said although it welcomes the number of jobs created in the third quarter, the 'increases over the eight quarters are slow and present no hope of reducing unemployment from the current highs'.

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JOHANNESBURG - The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) said it’s still too soon to celebrate the slight improvement seen in the labour market.

This is after Statistics SA announced that the unemployment rate has eased to 31.9%.

This is a drop by almost a percentage point compared to the second quarter, bringing the employment figure back above the pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels.

Finance, as well as community and social service sectors are among the biggest contributors to the recent job creation.


However, SAFTU’s Trevor Shaku said joblessness still remains alarmingly high.

“Though we welcome the increases [in employment] over the eight quarters, they are slow and present no hope of reducing unemployment from the current highs. Expanded unemployment, which we recognise as the true measure of unemployment, that includes those who have given up looking because it is fruitless, declined from 42,1% in the second quarter to 41,2% in the third quarter of 2023."

Labour analysts have previously described the country’s unemployment challenge as structural – with a mismatch between skills and jobs created.

Shaku said this needs to be addressed.

“The economy has not been able to create jobs for the new entrants and for those who lost employment in the past. Consequently, over six million people are trapped in what is considered to be permanent employment.”