The results of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the fourth quarter of 2019 show that the official unemployment rate remained unchanged at 29.1%, compared to the third quarter of 2019.
Releasing the survey results on Tuesday in Tshwane, Statistician General Risenga Maluleke said this was the first time since 2008 that the unemployment rate had not decreased in the fourth quarter.
The last quarter of 2019 saw the number of employed persons increase by 45,000 to 16.4 million. In the same period, the number of unemployed persons decreased by 8,000 to 6.7 million in Q4 of 2019, compared to Q3 of 2019, resulting in an increase of 38,000 in the labour force.
Over the past 10 years, between Q4: 2009 and Q4: 2019, unemployment rates increased by 5%.
Maluleke said the South African working-age population in the fourth quarter of 2019 increased by 145,000, compared to Q3 of 2019.
“The number of discouraged work seekers increased by 62,000 and those, who were not active in the labour market for reasons other than discouragement, increased by 45,000, resulting in a net increase of 107,000 in the number of those who were not economically active,” he said.
Employment increased in two of the four sectors in Q4 of 2019, Maluleke said.
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The survey further revealed that the formal sector recorded the largest employment increase, with 117,000. The sector was followed by agriculture, with 6,000.
“Employment in the formal sector declined by 77,000 and remained unchanged in the private households,” the Statistician General said.
The increase of 45,000 in the number of people employed in the fourth quarter of 2019 was mainly driven by community and social services with 113,000, followed by finance (76,000) and transport with 36,000.
However, the survey revealed, there were declines in employment in trade (159,000), manufacturing (39,000) and utilities (14,000).
“There were approximately 10.3 million persons aged 15 - 24 years in Q4: 2019. The share of these young people who were not in employment, education or training (NEET) decreased by 0.4 of a percentage point from 32.3% in Q3: 2019 to 32% (3.3 million) in Q4: 2019.
“Of the 20.4 million young people aged 15 - 34 years, 40.1% were not in employment, education or training in Q4: 2019 – a decrease of 0.3 of a percentage point, compared to the third quarter of 2019,” said the report.