SA unemployment rate steady at 26.7%

The country's unemployment rate remained unchanged at 26.7% over the first quarter of 2018 compared to the fourth quarter of 2017, according to the quarterly labour force survey released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) on Tuesday.

The quarterly labour force survey reflects the growth in employment numbers across various sectors.

In the first quarter, gains were recorded in the formal sector, with an increase of 111 000 jobs, while the informal sector added 93 000. Private households added 5 000 jobs. 

The agricultural sector recorded 3 000 job losses.

The expanded unemployment rate increased by 0.4 of a percentage point in the first quarter, to 36.7% quarter-to-quarter.

South Africa’s stubbornly high unemployment rate, especially among the youth, is one of the major challenges facing the government.

President Cyril Ramaphosa last month announced a plan to attract $100bn investment to the country over the next five years. An increase in investment is expected to boost economic growth and address joblessness. 

The Youth Employment Service (YES), a partnership between business and organised labour which was launched in March, is one of the initiatives aimed at alleviating youth unemployment through internships.

According to the official figures, the largest increase in the unemployment rate was recorded in Mpumalanga, up by 3.5 percentage points, followed by the Northern Cape, up by 2.4 percentage points.

The North West added 1.9 percentage points, while KwaZulu-Natal was down by 1.8 percentage points. Gauteng, the country's economic engine, dropped by 0.5 of a percentage point.

SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE UPDATE: Get Fin24's top morning business news and opinions in your inbox.