Unemployment is at its highest since Statistics South Africa started tracking the figure in 2008. Stats SA’s quarterly labour force survey shows that unemployment increased to 34.4% in the second quarter of this year, from 32.6% in the first quarter.

Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke announced the latest quarterly stats in Pretoria.

The survey showed that the number of employed persons decreased by 54 000 in the second to 14.9 million.

It further indicates that the number of unemployed persons increased by 584 000.

Maluleke says, “The unemployment rate for the 2nd quarter for 2021 – the number of those who were employed in the 1st quarter of 2021 has declined in the 2nd quarter by 54 000 people. The number of unemployed increased by 584 000 people from 7.2 million people to 7.8 million people. The unemployment rate of SA in the 2nd quarter of 2021 is 34.4% – this is the highest we have seen since 2008.”

Economist and employment analyst Andrew Levy says, “That is an increase of 2.4% and that is a huge number and obviously we can put this to the post-COVID situation and the ongoing retrenchments that are being seen right across the economy, obviously also reflecting the very negative economic outlook we are facing. So all in all a serious wake-up call to everyone, government, the departments dealing with labour.”

Labour union federation Cosatu’s deputy parliamentary coordinator Matthew Parks reacts to the latest figure:

The number of unemployed people is now at 7,8 million (actively looking for jobs) in the second quarter of 2021. This is an increase of 584 000 compared to the first quarter of 2021.

Eastern Cape has recorded the highest official and expanded unemployment rates. (See Figure 9 below).

Chief economist at economists.co.za  Mike Schussler reacts to jobs data: