South Africa’s unemployment figures remained unchanged at 29.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019, according to figures released by Statistics South Africa on Tuesday.
According to the Quarterly Labour Force Statistics, the number of employed persons increased by 45,000 to 16.4 million and the number of unemployed persons decreased by 8,000 to 6.7 million in Q4 of 2019 compared to Q3 of the same year, resulting in an increase of 38,000 in the labor force.
“An increase of 45,000 in the number of people in employment in the fourth quarter of 2019 was mainly driven by community and social services with 113,000, followed by 76,000 in finance and transport with 36,000,”said Statistician General Risenga Maluleke.
Employment in sectors such as trade declined by 159,000, manufacturing 39,000 and utilities by 14,000.
The expanded definition of unemployment, which includes people who have stopped looking for work, was 38.7 percent which is slightly up from 38.5 percent in the previous quarter.
Economists were optimistic about the release of the job figures for the fourth quarter anticipating an improvement due to part-time work created during the festive season.
Dawie Roodt, senior economist at Efficient Group said the latest figures were not surprising due to the sluggish economy.
“Usually the fourth quarter of the year reports better employment figures, but if the economy is not growing, then we will not create employment opportunities. So until you get this economy to grow, you won’t be creating jobs,” he told Xinhua.
The country’s growth for the last quarter is expected to be below 1 percent.
Reacting to the figure, opposition Democratic Alliance said President Cyril Ramaphosa must announce an urgent plan that would address joblessness in his upcoming state of the nation address on Thursday.
Ramaphosa has made it clear tackling unemployment and providing the youth with skills is one of his government’s top priorities. With power cuts set to continue for the next 18 months, it remains unclear how would it affect the economy and affect small businesses. Enditem