Unemployment rises to 25.2%

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pretoria - South Africa's unemployment rate rose to 25.2% in the first quarter of 2012 compared to 23.9% in the fourth quarter of 2011, says Statistics South Africa (Stats SA).

"Unemployment increased by 282 000 persons between the fourth quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012," Deputy Director General for Population and Social Statistics at Stats SA, Kefiloe Masiteng, said on Tuesday.

In releasing the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS), which is a household-based survey started in 2008, the survey found that in the first quarter of 2012, 4.5 million persons were unemployed. Of the 4.5 million, 3.1 million or 67.8% have been looking for work for a year or longer. Meanwhile, 59.6% of the job seekers did not have matric, while 44% have never worked before.

The increase in the number of unemployed people, together with a decrease in employment as well as a decrease in the economically inactive people, resulted in the increase in the unemployment rate - up by 1.3% to 25.2%.

"The expanded unemployment rate which relaxes the requirement of job search to be classified as unemployed also increased by 1.2% from 35.4% to 36.6% between the fourth quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012," noted Stats SA.

According to Stats SA, a similar pattern is observed every first quarter of the year, likely reflecting the impact of seasonal factors in the country's labour market.

Compared to the fourth quarter in 2011, unemployment increased in all provinces - except in the Northern Cape.

The Free State at 32.2%, followed by the Eastern Cape at 28.3%, the North West at 26.2% and the Gauteng province at 26% had unemployment rates higher than the national average.

In the first quarter, employment decreased by 75 000, said Stats SA. The decline is a result of job losses in the formal and informal sectors, said Masiteng. The formal sector shed 107 000 and the informal sector lost 28000 jobs.

"Agriculture and private households gained 26 000 and 33 000 jobs respectively. However, this was not big enough to offset the decline observed in the formal sector," said Masiteng.

The construction and manufacturing sectors drove the net decline of 75 000 in employment. They contracted by 6.7% and 3.7% respectively.