South Africa still has world’s worst unemployment – IRR
23 August 2022
Despite indicating mixed results, the latest Stats SA jobs numbers show – as the IRR forewarned – that South Africa has failed to budge from its position as the country with the world’s worst unemployment on record.
On the official definition, unemployment in the period April to June was 0.5% lower than in the same period in 2021, coming down to 33.9%. On the expanded definition, which includes those who gave up work, the year-on-year unemployment number improved by only 0.3%, coming down to 44.1%.
These welcome, but very slight improvements, cannot assuage the extremely concerning revelation that over 3.6 million young people aged 15 – 24 “were not in employment, education or training (NEET)”, according to Stats SA. “This is 2.7 percentage points higher than the NEET rate in Q2: 2021.”
This means that more than 3.6 million individuals, at the fresh end of the labour market, are not gaining skills or on-the-job experience. This not only worsens social dislocation and dependency, but also poses long-term risks, as the failure to absorb these young people into the job market will eventually cause a drying up of the available skills base.
Furthermore, Stats SA indicates that “long-term unemployment (1 year and more)” continues to increase. On the official definition long-term unemployment is 1.7% worse, quarter-on-quarter, and 5.1% worse year-on-year. Almost 6.3 million people have been unemployed for more than a year.
The IRR has commissioned independent pollsters to analyze the mood of the country and in every case for the last decade unemployment has come up as the number one unmet challenge. The challenge remains unmet, as structural unemployment continues to crush prospects of growth.
The “structure” referred to in “structural unemployment” is primarily government policy. The IRR has repeatedly broached the problem in correspondence delivered to the Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, but his office has thus far refused to open the door to an alternative approach that begins by cutting red tape.
Said IRR Head of Campaign Gabriel Crouse: “A young person with no reason to wake up promptly is likely to become self-destructive and antisocial. I know, it happened to me when I was unemployed. The government has to stop locking people out of opportunities with red tape that gets in the way of business. Respectfully, Minister Nxesi has to wake up to the need for a fresh approach.”
Issued by Gabriel Crouse, IRR Head of Campaigns, 23 August 2022