Lhe figure was scrutinized by all. On Tuesday, the Government Statistics Agency (StatsSA) announced that South Africa’s unemployment rate fell in the first quarter of the year to 34.5%, registering the first drop in nearly two years. Some “370,000 jobs were created between the 4e quarter of 2021 and the 1er quarter of 2022,” the organization said in a statement. The country, whose economy has been hit hard by the Covid crisis, had so far recorded a continuous increase in the number of unemployed since July 2020.
Job creation in key sectors
“Unemployment had last fallen by 6.8% on 2e quarter of 2020,” Malerato Mosiane of StatsSA told AFP. The continent’s leading industrial power now has 14.9 million workers out of a population of nearly 60 million. The number of unemployed fell by 60,000 from the previous quarter to 7.9 million.
Job creations benefited the community and social service sectors, industry and commerce. Finance, construction and agriculture, on the other hand, continued to lose jobs. The war in Ukraine created many jobs to meet the demand for basic commodities, the government also hired more people to speed up its public works program.
Youth unemployment still at high levels
On the other hand, while the number of unemployed young people (15-34 years old) fell by 0.1% compared to the end of last year to reach 4.7 million, “young people remain vulnerable in the labor market” , points out StatsSA. For experts, a growing number of young people are discouraged by the labor market. They are also not encouraged to improve their skills through education and training, whereas, for many observers, access to quality education is the only answer to deal with high youth unemployment. For others, the government must liberalize the economy in order to create conditions conducive to job creation. South Africa is regularly singled out for its strict labor laws.
A short respite?
The new statistics are timely for the government of President Cyril Ramaphosa, which has unveiled a major plan to attract more investment to help grow the economy and create jobs. “The investment strategy aims to create a fully integrated and coordinated approach to investment by aligning government priorities and channeling investment to areas with the greatest growth potential,” the presidency said in a published document. in the Official Journal on Tuesday. The main sectors targeted for investment include finance, insurance, real estate, business services, logistics, mining, electricity, water and agriculture.
But the respite on the unemployment front should be short-lived, as the global geopolitical context is tense with the war in Ukraine, slowing global production, soaring fuel and food prices. Domestically, the country is facing a record number of power outages, not to mention that the worst flooding in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal in April is likely to weigh on long-term economic growth and the creation of jobs.