Unemployment rises to 29.1% in third quarter

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

South Africa’s unemployment rate has gone up by 0.1% to reach 29.1% in the third quarter of 2019, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) announced on Tuesday.

“The unemployment rate for the third quarter of 2019 is 29.1%, having risen by 0.1 of a percentage point from the second quarter,” Statistician General Risenga Maluleke said at the release of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS).

Speaking at a media briefing held at the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) in Pretoria, Maluleke said in the third quarter, there were 6.7 million people that were unemployed, while the working age population in the household survey was at 38.6 million in the third quarter.

According to the data, over the last 10 years, the unemployment rate has increased by 4.6% between the third quarter of 2009 and the third quarter of 2019.

Meanwhile, the working age population (16 to 64) increased by 149 000 people between the second and third quarter.

According to the report, labour market rates varied significantly depending on one’s education level.

“Those with less than matric are sitting at 34.4% having decreased by 0.1% and those with matric are sitting with 29.8%. Those who are graduates are sitting at 8.2% and ‘other tertiary’ at 19.1%,” he said.

Youth unemployment

In terms of unemployment and age, those aged 15 to 24 years have the highest unemployment rate.

“The unemployment rate for those aged 15 to 24 remains relatively higher than any other age [group] sitting at 58.2%. When we contrast that with those aged 55 to 64, their unemployment rate is sitting at 9.9%.”

The unemployment rate among the youth was higher, irrespective of educational level. The unemployment rate for graduates aged 15 to 24 was sitting at 33.6%, while those aged 25 to 34 years was 14.3 %, and that of graduates aged 35 to 64 was at 3.8%.

“Young people remain vulnerable to labour markets,” said the Statistician General.

Meanwhile, approximately 3.3 million out of 10.3 million young people aged 15 to 24 were not in employment, education or training (NEET), while the overall NEET rate increased by 1.2% in the third quarter.

Provincially, the Northern Cape at 38.8% recorded the highest rate of young people (15-24) NEET, while approximately 8.2 million out of 20.4 million young people aged 15 to 34 years were NEET.

The overall NEET rate increased by 1.4% year-on-year.


On employment, the QLFS found that the number of persons employed increased by 62 000 in the third quarter, to 16.4 million quarter-on-quarter.

Trade, construction and agriculture have higher employment shares relative to their Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The increase was mainly driven by community and social services with 56 000, followed by agriculture and mining with 38 000 each and private households with 35 000.

Declines in employment were recorded in manufacturing (30 000), construction (24 000), trade (21 000) and utilities (18 000). – SAnews.gov.za