South Africa’s unemployment rate on the rise

By on May 12, 2014

South Africa’s unemployment rate rose to 25.2 percent in the first quarter (Q1) of 2014 from 24.1 percent in the last quarter of 2013 according to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) reports released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), writes Krysia Gaweda.

The QLFS is a household-based sample survey, which collects data on the labour market activities of individuals aged 15 years and above who live in South Africa.

Stats SA reports the unemployment rate rose by 122 000 people, from 4.83 million in the last quater of 2013 to over five million in Q1 2014. According to the QLFS, this was the largest decreases observed in the past three years when comparing similar periods.

The decline in employment is due mainly to the sharp decline in jobs in the transport (66 000), community and social service (42 000) and trade industries (38 000) sectors. However, on a more positive note, during the same period employment gains were observed in manufacturing (38 000), finance and other business services (8 000), and utilities industries (3 000).

Compared to Q1 2013, the number of employed persons in the same quarter this year increased by 496 000. By comparing the year-on-year figures, the QLFS showed that employment increased in eight of the 10 industries, the largest increase came from the trade, community and social services, and finance and other business services (154 000, 132 000 and 130 000 respectively). During this same period, employment declines were seen mainly in agriculture (55 000) as well as manufacturing industries (52 000).

The QLFS quarter-to-quarter employment changes showed that employment had declined in five of the nine provinces, namely Limpopo, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Free State, and the Northern Cape. During this same period, employment rates in the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal remained the same, while the Western Cape and North West saw a rise in employment of 1 000 jobs each.

According to the QLFS, between Q1 2013 and Q1 2014, employment increased throughout the country except in the Free State province. The largest increases were seen in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, contributing 146 000 and 103 000 respectively.

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