StatsSA 2024 Q1 Employment increases - not enough for new entries to labour market

By sylviahammond, 14 May, 2024
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Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) has released the employment statistics for the first quarter of 2024. Those in employment increased by 22,000, making up for the 22,000 lost in the last quarter of 2023, but unemployment increased by 330,000 to 8.2 million unemployed - raising the overall unemployment percentage from 32.1% to 32.9%.

During the first quarter, as the population increases, there is an increase in those seeking jobs: school leavers, and also graduates. 

The industries contributing to employment were manufacturing , private households, and various other industries, however, job losses came from community and social services, and from construction, which lost 106,000 jobs. 

Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke indicates that the South African economy has started to recover after the COVID-19 pandemic, and that there has been a continued slow increase in employment since then, which now surpasses the pandemic levels. 

In the breakdown of the unemployment percentages, those classified as White, Indian, or Coloured show lower rates of unemployment than the national average percentage of 32.9%, and only the Black African population sits above the national average - at 36%. Further breakdown reveals that within the Black African demographic, women have the highest unemployment percentage at 39.2%. 

Looking at young people within the population: 

  • those between 15 - 24 years of age are also above the national average, sitting at 59.6%;
  • those between 25 - 34 years of age are slightly lower, but also above the national average, sitting at 40.7%;
  • there are 10.3 million young people between the ages of 15- 24 years, and of those 3.6 million are not in Education, Employment or Training - known as NEET - at 35.5%.

The significance of the NEET figure is illustrated by the Statistician-General's presentation slide on page 17 of unemployment by qualification level

unemployment qualification

The Statistician-General reports that there has been a change globally in the seasonal patterns of job increases and losses. In this year, although 122,000 jobs were lost within the Community and Social Services category - mainly from education, has countered by the increase in employment for the elections.

A troubling picture is painted on long-term unemployed persons. 

The figure has increased 

  • from 66,0% in Q1:2014 
  • to 75,2% in Q1:2024.

To access the full StatsSA report, Media briefing, Key findings report, and the powerpoint presentation by the Statistician-General



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