South Africa – sadly – had to publish a new negative record yesterday as the recorded number of South Africans without a job rose to 4.723 million in the second quarter of 2013. It is now the highest since the Statistic Office (STATSA) started the survey in 2008. Thus the country’s unemployment rose to 25.6% of the labour force compared with 25.2% in the first quarter. Stats SA said this amounted to 4.7 million people without work in the second quarter, up from 4.6 million jobless in the previous three months.
Compared to a year ago, unemployment in the second quarter of this year had increased by 5.7%. The country’s unemployment rate has been stuck around 25% for the past several years and is one of the biggest headaches for President Jacob Zuma as the country heads into elections next year. The number of discouraged work-seekers had increased by 35 000 from the first to the second quarter. The number of those “not economically active” had decreased by 145 000, resulting in a net decrease of 110 000.
The effects of South Africa’s high unemployment will be felt for decades to come, SA Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus commented today: “Joblessness is the most pressing economic issue facing the world today,” Marcus told delegates at a labour law conference in Johannesburg. She said the problem of unemployment was not unique to South Africa, and that many other countries were seeking ways to address it.
“At least 200 million people are unemployed in the world today. This figure excludes those who are not actively seeking work.” Marcus stated further that the rate of job creation had been too slow and was not sufficient to absorb the people seeking work. “We need an enabling environment that encourages investment, an increase in exports, and economic growth to be able to effectively fight unemployment.”
Sad, sad Affairs!