More people are in employment than before the pandemic: Ramaphosa

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Despite the high unemployment rate in South Africa, more people are in employment than before the COVID-19 pandemic. This was revealed by President Cyril Ramaphosa during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday evening.

Addressing the nation from the Cape Town City Hall, Ramaphosa says the number of South Africans in employment has slightly more than doubled since the dawn of democracy.

“The number of South Africans in employment increased from 8 million in 1994 to over 16.7 million now,” says Ramaphosa.

“Over the last two years, the number of jobs being created has been increasing every quarter and we now have more people in employment than before the pandemic,” he adds.

South Africa had a population of 43 million in 1994 while according to the Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data, today the population is nearing 61 million.

Despite more people being in employment as opposed to before the pandemic, this has, however, not translated into decreasing unemployment rates in the country, with the official unemployment rate at 31,9% in the third quarter of 2023. This as per the Quarterly Labour Force Survey which indicated an increase of 399 000 unemployed people to 16,7 million.

“Yet, our unemployment rate is the highest it has ever been. Even as employment is growing, more people are entering the job market each year than jobs are being created,” says Ramaphosa.

The President says notwithstanding the challenged, the foundation to growth has been laid.

“We have laid a foundation for growth through far-reaching economic reforms, an ambitious investment drive and an infrastructure programme that is starting to yield results. Companies continue to invest, thousands of hectares of farmland are being planted, new factories are being opened and production is being expanded,” explains Ramaphosa.

“We are on track to resolve the most important constraints on economic growth by stabilising our energy supply and fixing our logistics system. As these obstacles are removed, the true potential of our economy is unleashed.”

President Ramaphosa delivers the 2024 State of the Nation Address: