Youth jobless rate double that of over 40s - Stats SA

Driving into Kempton Park on the East Rand of Johannesburg on Saturday, a group of young men are silhouetted against an industrial zone of warehouses and factories.

Sitting and leaning against a metal T-junction sign, they held up handwritten signs, advertising  themselves as plumbers, painters and other artisans in the hope of finding employment for the day.

This scene reflects the reality corroborated by the release of unemployment figures by Statistics South Africa on Tuesday, which show a rise in the official jobless rate and the number of young people not in employment, education and training.

The unemployment rate jumped 0.5% to 27.2% in the second quarter of 2018, which equates to 6.1 million unemployed South Africans who are looking for work. The jobless rate had remained unchanged at 26.7% in the first three months of the year and the end of 2017.

When discouraged job seekers are added, the expanded unemployment rate rose 0.5% to 37.2% of the working age population, or some 9.6 million people.

The job market for young South Africans is particularly bleak.

The number of people between the ages of 15 and 34 not in education, training or employment increased by 0.4% year-on-year to reach 39.3%, or four out of ten. And while unemployment rates varied depending on education level, it is higher among younger people, irrespective of their education level.

At 33.6%, the unemployment rate for young people aged between 25 and 34 is more than double that of the 45-54 category, which stands at 16%. 

Manufacturing in decline

According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, SA's manufacturing sector lost 105 000 jobs in April, May and June 2018. Some 93 00 positions were shed in the services sector - mostly in health and social work, while trade lost 57 000 jobs, the majority in retail and motor vehicles sales.

There was, however, a sharp U-turn for the country's industrial sector, which added 58 000 jobs in the first quarter. Community and social services increased employment by 95 000 positions.

Several sectors which shed jobs in the first quarter managed to reverse their fortunes somewhat in the second quarter, with transport recording 54 000 job increases, and mining adding 38 000 jobs, mostly in the gold and uranium ore sectors.

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