South Africa’s Jobless Rate Hits New High

A sex work supporter wears a mask at a march in solidarity with sex workers set on decriminalising the trade in Johannesburg on May 27, 2021. (Photo by GUILLEM SARTORIO / AFP)



South Africa’s unemployment rate climbed to its highest level on record in the first quarter, official data showed Tuesday, as the country reels from the coronavirus pandemic.

The jobless rate rose to 32.6 percent in the first three months of the year, compared to 32.5 percent in the previous quarter.

It is the highest figure on record since the start of South Africa’s quarterly labour force survey in 2008, said statistician-general Risenga Maluleke

The number of jobless people rose by 8,000 to 7.2 million from the fourth quarter of 2020.

The job losses were largely registered in the construction and agricultural sectors.

The expanded definition of unemployment — people who are employable but have given up looking for work — rose by 0.6 percentage points to 43.2 percent.

Young people have been particularly badly hit, with the unemployment rate among those aged 15 to 34 years old exceeding 46 percent.

South Africa’s economy, which contracted by seven percent in 2020, is still reeling from the knock-on effects of rolling restrictions to stem the spread of Covid-19.

The stifled economic activity bled hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The African continent’s most industrialised economy was already in recession when the coronavirus hit last March.

It is Africa’s hardest hit by Covid-19, with over 1.6 million infections, including more than 56,000 fatalities.

The unemployment rate in South Africa has remained above 20 percent for at least two decades.

NigeriaAt59: High Unemployment Rate Is Highly Unacceptable – Gupta


An expert on globalisation and emerging markets, Dr Anil Gupta says a high unemployment rate whether individually or in a society is highly unacceptable.

Gupta, who was one of the speakers at The Platform a programme convened by Pastor Poju Oyemade of Covenant Christian Center, on Tuesday said estimates show that a huge number of Nigerian youths are unemployed a situation which he said is capable of ‘feeding’ xenophobia.

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According to him, the high rate of unemployment among young South Africans gave room for xenophobia, hence Nigeria should not treat unemployment with kids glove.

“There is a lot that Nigeria needs to do. For example, the figures according to several estimates from 15 to 35 age groups the level of unemployment or underemployment in Nigeria is well higher than 25% and that clearly tells us that something needs to be done.

“At the society level, high unemployment level runs the risk of feeding xenophobia,” Gupta said, adding that this is responsible for the recent developments in South Africa where foreigners, especially foreigners from other African countries including Nigerians are attacked.

He concluded that “a high unemployment rate is highly unacceptable individually or at the level of society.

“Looking at where Nigeria is coming from and where we are going, a lot more lies ahead.”

Gupta also pointed out that Nigeria’s GDP growth rate has been slower than the population growth rate, according to him, what this means is that per capita income in real terms in Nigeria has declined over the past years.