The official unemployment rate increased to 27.2% during the second quarter, compared with 26.7% in the first quarter. This translates to 6.1-milllion unemployed people in South Africa.
There are 37.8-million people that are of working age (between 15 and 64 years) in South Africa, of which 16.3-milllion are employed, according to Statistics South Africa’s (Stats SA’s) Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the second quarter, which was released on Tuesday.
The labour force accounts for 22.4-million people and non-economically active persons account for 15.5-million of the working age population.
Stats SA statistician-general Risenga Maluleke said there was an increase of 154 000 in the number of people of working age in South Africa for the second quarter – a 0.4% quarter-on-quarter increase.
The increase in the unemployment rate is owing to a 90 000 increase in the number of people unemployed quarter-on-quarter.
This was coupled with an increase in the number of discouraged work seekers to 2.9-million during the reporting period.
Employment gains of 22 000 were recorded in private households, which now employ 1.3-million people, while the formal sector recorded 35 000 employment losses, now standing at 11.3-million jobs; 73 000 employment losses in the informal sector, which now stands at 2.8-million jobs; and 3 000 employment losses in agriculture, which stands at 834 000 jobs.
The industry that recorded the most job losses was manufacturing, with 105 000 job losses, followed by community, social and personal services that saw 93 000 jobs lost and trade that saw 57 000 jobs lost, compared with the first quarter.
Manufacturing job losses are mostly attributed to base metals, food and beverage, and tobacco products. Losses in services were driven by health, social, recreational, sporting, pubic administration and defence activities. Trade job losses can be attributed to retail trade declines, and motor vehicle sales, repair and maintenance services.
Employment gains occurred in transport with 54 000, construction with 45 000, mining with 38 000, private households with 22 000 and utilities with 18 000.
The transport employment gains are mostly attributed to railway, other land transport, postal and related courier activities. Construction job gains occurred in civil engineering and building activities. Mining job gains can be attributed to non-ferrous ores, gold and uranium industries.
In terms of what should be done to gain jobs quarter-on-quarter, Maluleke suggested policymakers exercise their duties on the back of informed statistics and knowledge of where the most losses occur. He also suggested that policymakers consider cyclical factors that especially affect the manufacturing industry.
Moreover, the QLFS observed that youth unemployment rates remain high, despite increases in higher education levels. There were about 10.3-million people aged between 15 and 24 years in the second quarter. People in this age group who were not in employment, education or training, declined by 0.6% quarter-on-quarter, to 3.3-million.
Nedbank commented that The job market is likely to improve later in the year, although marginally so, along with the expected recovery in economic growth on improved confidence and better global economic conditions. However, the unemployment rate will still remain high.
"[The survey] statistics are disappointing and suggest that the economy remains depressed and is still struggling to create jobs. However, activity will probably improve during the second half of the year although general conditions will remain relatively sluggish and subdued.
"Inflation is expected to increase in the coming months, but is not expected to breach the Reserve Bank's upper target limit during the remainder of this year or the early part of next year. This relatively benign inflation outlook and the subdued economic environment will probably convince the Monetary Policy Committee to leave interest rates unchanged for as long as possible."
Nedbank believes that rates will remain unchanged for the rest of this year, before rising moderately late in 2019. Over the short term, the risk to the outlook resides on the upside, and is highly dependent on the Rand's movements.