High unemployment rates will persist for years to come: Analyst

The largest increase in employment was recorded in finance, private households, trade and transport sectors all recorded the largest increases in job gains, while decreases in employment were recorded in the government, construction and agriculture industries, says Statistics SA.

Data shows unemployment declined by 0.2 percentage points to 32.7%. The survey also shows 169 000 jobs were gained between the third and fourth quarter of last year.

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According to the data, young people between the age of 15 and 34 remain vulnerable in the labour market, with the unemployment rate reaching 45.3% in the fourth quarter of last year.

The number of unemployed persons increased by 28 000 to 7.8 million in the fourth quarter.

Statistician general Risenga Maluleke says despite some employment gains, employment levels remain below pre-covid levels.

“We have seen the year 2022 gaining a lot of jobs and we have seen unemployment starting to decline in the year 2022, so it means that we are going back to our pre-covid levels although you will recall in the second quarter of the year 2020, we lost about 2 million jobs. We were sitting at 16 million jobs before covid, and we still have not recovered from that. We are not sitting at 15.8 million jobs, so we are still about 600 000 jobs short to be where we were when we were hit by covid.”

Employment prospects remain depressed as a result of the weak economic growth, made worse by the rolling blackouts.

Economist at Alex Forbes, Murendeni Nengovhela says, “We are going to see some more job shedding in the first quarter of this year, given the intensity of load shedding that we are actually experiencing. There has been a lot of stage 6, with most companies unable to produce goods with some opting to actually close around 1′ o clock during the day that tells you that the output gap is more likely going to widen and we are going to see more firms actually letting people go and that will definitely see some reverse in terms of unemployment gains. For this quarter, we might see the unemployment number increase again by 0.4% in the quarter.”

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Addressing structural constraints like the electricity crisis and logistics challenges is seen as key to growing the economy and making a dent in the high unemployment.

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Source: SABC News (sabcnews.com)