Department of Employment and Labour voices concern, as unemployment rate increases

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Unemployment is an issue faced by scores of South Africans. An issue which affects both the livelihood of the affected people and the country’s economy. But, just how bad is the unemployment rate in South Africa? Has it increased over recent months?

According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) conducted by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), there is a substantial increase in the country’s unemployment rate.

The QLFS is a household-based sample survey conducted by Stats SA. It collects data on the labour market activities of individuals aged 15 years and older who live in South Africa.

According to the QLFS, the working-age population increased by 147 000 or 0,4% in the first quarter of 2020, compared to the fourth quarter of 2019. Compared to first quarter of 2019, the working-age population increased by 591 000 or 1,5%.

Stats SA found the number of employed persons decreased by 38 000, dropping to 16,4 million employed people in the first quarter of 2020. The survey also shows the number of unemployed persons increased by 344 000 to 7,1 million, compared to the fourth quarter of 2019, resulting in an increase of 306 000 (up by 1,3%) in the number of people in the labour force.

The unemployment rate increased by 1,0 percentage point to 30,1%.

Furthermore, the labour force participation rate increased by 0,5 of a percentage point to 60,3%. However, the absorption rate decreased by 0,3 of a percentage point to 42,1% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.

The largest employment decreases were observed in the formal sector (50 000), followed by the Agricultural sector with 21 000 in the first quarter of 2020.

On the other hand, employment in the informal sector and Private households increased by 3 000 and 30 000 respectively in the first quarter of 2020, compared to fourth quarter of 2019.

The number of discouraged work-seekers increased by 63 000, with the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement decreasing by 222 000 between the two quarters, resulting in a net decline of 159 000 in the not economically active population.

Compared to a year ago, total employment increased by 91 000. The number of unemployed persons increased by 869 000.

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi, views the Stats SA figures and the increase in the unemployment rate with concern.

“Those figures represent the pain experienced by individual workers, their families and communities,” Nxesi expressed.

From the side of the Department of Employment and Labour, Nxesi claims the experience gained in distributing COVID-19 benefits means that the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), must be geared up to handle the expected rise in claims for ordinary UIF benefits.

Furthermore, Nxesi claims the government will now have to intensify its efforts to combat unemployment and to stimulate growth.

He said the government will have to build on the strong foundations laid in the past two years. In particular, by intensifying and fast-tracking efforts to implement the Jobs Summit commitments; and leveraging the capital investment raised through the Investment Conference to support productive investment and jobs.

With the unemployment rate on the rise, how do you feel the government can resolve the issue? Share your thoughts and views with us in the comment section below.

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