South Africa

Good news for unemployment, numbers still shockingly high

Stats SA announced today that the official unemployment rate was 32.6% in the second quarter of 2023 – a slight improvement from the first quarter.

The results of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) indicate that the number of employed persons increased by 154,000 to 16.3 million in Q2 2023 compared to the first quarter of 2023.

The number of unemployed persons decreased by 11,000 to 7.9 million during the same quarter. 

Additionally, the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement increased by 93,000 to 13.3 million. 

The discouraged work-seekers decreased by 94,000 in the second quarter of 2023 compared to the first quarter of 2023, resulting in a net decrease of 1,000 in the not economically active population.

This resulted in the official unemployment rate decreasing by 0.3 of a percentage point from 32.9% in the first quarter of 2023 to 32.6% in the second quarter of 2023. 

The unemployment rate, according to the expanded definition, decreased by 0.3 of a percentage point to 42.1% in Q2 2023 compared to Q1 2023.

Formal sector employment increased by 143,000 in Q2 2023, and informal sector employment decreased by 33,000. 

The following industries recorded the largest employment gains –

  • Construction – 104,000
  • Trade – 92,000
  • Community and Social Services – 63,000 

On the other hand, employment losses were recorded in the following industries – 

  • Manufacturing – 96,000
  • Finance – 68,000
  • Transport – 7,000 
  • Utilities – 6,000 

Limpopo recorded the highest employment increases in Q2 2023, with employment up by 80,000, followed by the Western Cape (54,000) and KwaZulu-Natal (48,000).

Employment losses were recorded in Free State (59,000) and the Northern Cape (17,000). 

Stats SA said the youth remain vulnerable in the labour market. 

However, the second quarter results showed that the total number of unemployed youth (people aged 15-34 years) decreased by 131,000 to 4.7 million, while there was an increase of 105,000 in the number of employed youth to 5.7 million during the same period. 

This resulted in a decrease in the youth unemployment rate by 1.1 percentage points to 45.3% in Q2 2023.


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