South Africa

Bad news for South Africa’s unemployment rate

Social grants

Stats SA announced today that the official unemployment rate was 32.1% in the fourth quarter of 2023 – a slight deterioration from the third quarter.

The results of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) indicate that the number of employed persons decreased by 22,000 to 16.7 million in Q4 2023 compared to the third quarter of 2023.

The number of unemployed persons increased by 46,000 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 218,000 to 13.4 million. 

The number of discouraged work-seekers decreased by 107,000 quarter-on-quarter.

This resulted in a net increase of 111,000 in the not economically active population.

The official unemployment rate, therefore, increased by 0.2 of a percentage point from 31.9% in Q3 to 32.1% in the fourth quarter. 

The unemployment rate, according to the expanded definition, decreased by 0.1 of a percentage point to 41.1% in Q4.

Formal sector employment decreased by 128,000 in Q4 2023, and informal sector employment increased by 124,000. 

The following industries recorded the largest formal employment gains –

  • Finance – 480,000
  • Community and Social Services – 102,000 
  • Construction – 69,000

Employment losses were recorded in the following industries – 

  • Manufacturing – 132,000
  • Trade – 15,000
  • Utilities – 7,000 

The Eastern Cape recorded the highest employment decreases in Q4 2023, with employment down by 111,000, followed by Limpopo (40,000), the North West (30,000) and the Northern Cape (2,000).

Large employment increases were recorded in KwaZulu-Natal (62,000), followed by Mpumalanga (48,000) and the Western Cape (23,000). 

The Eastern Cape recorded the biggest quarter-to-quarter percentage change decrease in employment of 7.6%


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