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Unemployment rate increased by 1.7 percentage points to 32.5%

This is the highest unemployment rate recorded since 2008
Statistician-general Risenga Maluleke. Image: Supplied

South Africa’s unemployment increased 1.7 percentage points to 32.5% (7.2 million people) in the fourth quarter of 2020, representing the highest unemployment rate recorded in 12 years. 

The number of unemployed people increased by 701 000 to 7.2 million in the final quarter of 2020 following an increase of 2.2 million people in the previous quarter. 

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According to the expanded definition of unemployment, however, the unemployment rate decreased by 0.5 percentage points to 42.6% in quarter four of 2020. This means 11.1 million in the country are unemployed. 

The expanded and narrow definition of unemployment in Q4 2020. Image: Stats SA

The expanded definition of unemployment refers to people who were available to work but did not look for work either because they are discouraged from looking for work or did not look for work for other reasons other than discouragement.

The number of discouraged work-seekers increased by 234 000 (up by 8.7%) and the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement decreased by 1.1 million between Q3 and Q4 of 2020. 

Easing restrictions

The increase in the unemployment rate coincided with the easing of lockdown restrictions which allowed for travelling and allowed for people to actively look for employment compared to the second quarter of 2020 when the country was under a hard lockdown which prevented movement. 

Of the 15 million people who were employed in quarter four of 2020, almost eight out of ten people (78.3%) were expected to work during the national lockdown by the companies or organisations they work for. 

Increase in people required to work from their office in Q4 2020. Image: Stats SA

“Those who actually worked were predominately men in most industries, except in the community and social services sector and private households, where the majority were women. About nine out of ten people employed within the Construction industry who worked during the lockdown, were men,” Stats SA  said in a statement. 

The largest employment increases were recorded in the formal sector (189 000), private households (76 000), the informal sector(65 00) and the agricultural sector (2000). 

There were employment increases in all industries, except finance and mining. The industries which gained the most jobs were community and social services (170 000)and construction (86 000). 

Employment gains in Q4 2020. Image: Stats SA

“Compared to quarter 4 2019, employment contracted in all industries. Most job losses were observed in finance (256 000), Community and social services (241 000) and Manufacturing (230 000),” Stats SA said. 

Smaller sample 

Covid-19 and the lockdowns continued to impact on the data collection from Stats SA. The entity continued to collect data telephonically in the 4th quarter of 2020, unlike the usual face-to-face interviews 

As such, data could not be collected from the full sample but only from households for which contact numbers were available. 

The entity also continues to feel the strain of the R200 million which was slashed from its budget in last year’s Supplementary Budget. Statistician-general Risenga Maluleke told Moneyweb that although the budget cuts affected the entity’s operations, the collection of “basic data” such as GDP and employment remains unaffected. 

Maluleke however warned that in the long term, the entity may experience challenges in its data collection due to the budget cuts. 


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If these figures, so graphically laid out, do not reflect the abject failure of the ANC’s economic policies then I don’t know what does.

Other than the murder and rape statistics. But no-one seems to care. Have we become numb to the decline of society into a morass of stupidity?

true shocker on the dire stats out of SA

the effect from a pandemic shutting down everything for nearly a year barely moves the employment needle..

When you realize that a higher unemployment rate suits the ANC narrative you begin to understand why they have done nothing about it.

Could not agree more.
Even at their narrative subjective data points it proves their governance and leadership is a failure.

Contrary to the anc voter belief, the party enforces inequality out of fear for being voted out because they know their policy and practices have been regressive.

Eventually they will fall on their own fighting sword and South Africans from all walks of life will be able to move forward.

Well done! Another success story hey comrades?

Why work if half your money goes to Tax. Why save money if you are going to pay Wealth tax?

In my opinion, most of the irreparable damage was caused by Mr. Zuma’s mal-administration of ten years and now we are all paying for it.

My fellow South Africans: We, the ANC, is going to forcefully going to halt all economic activity during the lock down. Do not worry…there will be no CONSEQUENCES!

Proudly brought to you by the ANC. (Despite innumerable promises to the contrary over the past 26 years)

Just underlines the fact that politicians and nappies need to be changed regularly. Both for the same reason.

I concur yes changing is much needed or else it stinks, in fact, it has already begun smelling.

This is a deepened worrying crisis. The longer this continues the worst it may become. I cannot fathom the stats around this ticking timebomb. The private sector and the state need to come together because if the government can not deliver and the private sector putting their interest first then ultimately there will be no solution to this problem. It will result in further lawlessness and more poverty. Both need to work together we cannot have a situation whereby 2 work parallel to one another. It is pointless blaming the government when the private sector also has an interest in the direction. We have seen private corporations take on the position of state provision it has been happening in many parts of the world. The unemployment crisis may only bee resolved when both work to the benefit of the citizens. Private interest always remains profits public interest remains taxes, surely one cannot distrust each other. When all the skilled people have left and the government has no capacity and neither does the private sector too, who is going to pick up those pieces, myself as a taxpayer, I highly doubt it. If they cannot work together then we might as well turn in to Argentina or Venezuela. Lessons are learnt from failed policies and private interest that accelerated failed policies.

Minimum wage to increase by 16 % for farmers on 1 st of March. Will this help unemployment? How stupid can a gavamunt be.

brought to you by the ANC,overpopulation,covid and jan van riebeeck

Am I missing something here…?

Of the 40 million in SA who are due to be vaccinated (18 years and older). Only 26 million are eligible for work, when considering those employed, plus those of the “expanded” unemployment rate.

Are we really suggesting that pensioners, students and the odd stay at home parent make up the remaining 14 million?
Surely the situation is far worse than the 42.6% reported…

The ANC is well on track to take SA’s unemployment levels to the “mean average” of this continent.

I’m confident they’ll get us there. Viva!

SA’s economists are looking at unemployment through through a second world lens, when we are a 70% third world country.

The figures show a lack of formal, second world jobs, which would be ideal but unrealistic.

The focus should shift to the informal sector and job creation there.

Also, the traditional areas graveyard should be woken up.

So nobody in government sees the link between an explosion in population growth and unemployment?

The country has created more people than the economy can carry. We have around 60 m people and can carry about 30m.

End of comments.





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