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SA’s persistent unemployment rate rises to a 13-year high

The South Africa’s unemployment rate rose to a 13-year high after ticking up slightly to 32.6 percent in the first quarter of 2021, from 32.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Data from Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) yesterday showed that the official unemployment rate increased by 0.1 of a percentage point.

This was the highest unemployment rate since 2008 during the global financial crisis.

StatsSA said the number of unemployed persons increased by 8 000 to 7.2 million while employment fell by 28 000 to 15 million during the period.

The official unemployment rate among youth (15-34 years) was 46.3 percent in the first quarter, with the rate remaining an elevated 9.3 percent among university graduates

StatsSA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) also showed that the labour force went down by 20 000 to 22.2 million as some industries created jobs while others lost jobs.

Most jobs were lost in the informal sector, private households and agriculture whilst formal sector employment increased by 79 000.

The number of discouraged work-seekers increased by 201 000 (6.9 percent), and the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement decreased by 38 000 (0.3 percent) between the two quarters, resulting in a net increase of 164 000 in the not economically active population.

StatsSA said the unemployment rate according to the expanded definition of unemployment increased by 0.6 of a percentage point to 43.2 percent, the highest it has ever been.

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