Unemployment in the second quarter of 2017 stayed steady at 27.7% from the previous quarter, but declined by 1.1 percentage point year-on-year, Statistics South Africa announced on Monday.
The current unemployment rate is the highest figure since September 2003.
Statistician general Pali Lehohla, who released the Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the second quarter of this year in Pretoria, said the labour absorption rate, which is a proportion of those who are employed among the population aged 15 to 64, declined by 0.4 of a percentage point to 43.3%.
The expanded unemployment rate – which includes those who wanted to work but did not look for employment – increased by 0.2 of a percentage point and now stands at 9.3 million people.
Youth unemployment near 56%
Young people between the ages of 15 to 24 remain vulnerable in the labour market with an unemployment rate of close to 56%, with a labour absorption rate of only 12%. Among the unemployed in this category altogether 32.2% are not in employment, education or training.
“This means approximately 3.3 million young people between 15 to 24 years of age are idle,” Lehohla said.
Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago told Parliament during a briefing last week that South Africa will not be able to create jobs at an economic growth rate of below 3%.
He noted that more people are entering the job market than the number of jobs being created.
“If the economy grows at 3%, it means employment is created for every percentage of growth of up to 0.6%. It is, therefore, possible to have jobless growth, but you can never create employment in a contracting economy. For jobs growth the economy needs to grow,” Kganyago said.