SA sees third highest employment increase since 2008, QLFS finds

The Quarterly Labour Force Survey has shown that the number of employed persons increased by 333,000 to 15 million, the third-largest increase since the start of the survey in 2008.

FILE: While some could be encouraged by the increase in the number of employed people, this means very little to many. Picture: © 1971yes/123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG - Despite there being more employed people in South Africa during the fourth quarter of 2020 as compared to the previous one, the unemployment rate still reached record highs.

The Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) has on Tuesday shown that the number of employed persons increased by 333,000 to 15 million, the third-largest increase since the start of the survey in 2008.

But the country clocked the highest unemployment rate since 2008 at 32.5% during the fourth quarter of last year.

While some could be encouraged by the increase in the number of employed people, this means very little to many.

The country has 39.3 million people of working age, who ideally should be absorbed in the labour market if they so seek had the country not been struggling with the joblessness crisis.

The stats indicate that the number of discouraged job seekers, who are counted in the expanded definition of unemployment, increased by 8,7% while those who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement increased by one point one million.

Stats SA has also pointed out that the employment rate has increased in the fourth quarter of each year since 2014 except in 2017.

EXPANDED DEFINITION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AT 42.6%

Stats SA said the expanded definition of unemployment stood at 42.6% in the fourth quarter of 2020, a 0.5 percentage point decrease compared to the quarter before.

The rate includes discouraged job seekers.

It said of the job losses recorded in quarter four of last year as compared to the same period in 2019, 1.4 million of these were in sectors including finance, manufacturing, community and social services.

All industries in the formal sector employment - with the exception of finance and mining recorded employment - gained in the fourth quarter as compared to the same period last year.

However, the year-on-year losses in employment were driven by elementary occupations at 369,000, followed by sales and services at 262,000.

Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke said: “If we add what we call the discouraged work-seekers who are about 2.9 million as well as another million who didn’t look for employment for whatever reasons, then we come to 11.1 million.”

The major gains recorded in the farming sector saw skilled agriculture contributing 6,000 jobs and was the only occupation that recorded gains in employment in quarter four of 2020 when compared to the same quarter in 2019.

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