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Unemployment in South Africa now at 31%, showing signs of recovery

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By Ragheema Mclean

While unemployment in South remains a major cause for concern, slight areas of improvement were recorded in the third quarter of 2023.

According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) released by Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) this week, the country’s unemployment rate now stands at 31.9%.

The number of employed individuals increased by 399,000 to reach 16.7 million employed people in South Africa. This is a notable increase from the 16.3 million recorded in the second quarter of the year.

Simultaneously, the number of unemployed persons decreased by 72,000, bringing the total down to 7.8 million.

Speaking on the VOC Breakfast show on Wednesday, Portfolio Manager of the Camissa Islamic funds, Abdul Azeez Davids, suggested that these figures hint at an economic recovery, reminiscent of the pre-pandemic period of 2019.

“This means that the economy has now recovered certainly from an unemployment point of view to before the pre-pandemic period,” he said.

Davids noted that private sector employment increased by 287,000 jobs in the third quarter, and some of the key industries contributing to the employment gains include finance (up by 237,000), community and social services (up by 119,000), and agriculture (up by 61,000).

He attributed the positive shift in employment numbers to several factors, including the downgrade in loadshedding stages over the past few months.

“Loadshedding a major challenge for many businesses, which has recently eased, offering some relief and enabling enhanced performance.”

Additionally, the services sector has benefited from a weaker currency, leading to advantages in inbound tourism and improved prospects for exporting products, particularly from the agriculture sector.

Improvements in Youth Unemployment

The youth unemployment rate decreased by 1.9 percentage points from 45.3% in quarter 2 of 2023 to 43.4% in quarter 3 of 2023.

Davids emphasized that the improvements in youth unemployment predominantly stem from industries that do not necessitate highly skilled workers.

“Many of these sectors require low-skilled or semi-skilled workers, and our youth, being productive and hardworking, fulfil these roles without the need for advanced degrees,” he elaborated.

Furthermore, he noted that the last quarter has given good indication of what is required for further progress in the economy.

“We need certainty around power, and we need an environment where companies feel comfortable investing in the economy.”

 VOC News

Photo: Pexels

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