BRIEF: More people entered the labour force, but don’t have a job

On Tuesday, Statistics South Africa published the unemployment statistics for the last quarter of 2020 – this means the months running from October to December. At least 7 million people, who are supposed to be employed, are now unemployed. This translates to an official unemployment rate of 32.5% – from 30.1% in the previous quarter.

However, the numbers show that the number of unemployed people increased during this quarter because more people entered the labour force. At least 1 million people entered the labour force during this period. These 1 million people mainly consist of persons with an education level below matric, otherwise graduates and those with tertiary education. 

Quick reminder: The labour force consists of people between the ages of 15 and 64 who are supposed to have a job or are actively looking for a job – people in school, tertiary education, are unable to work due to health and are homemakers are not included. The expanded definition of unemployment includes people who are of employable age but are not looking for a job.

If we factor in this group of people, then the unemployment rate would increase to 42.6%. 

But, don’t be dismayed, it’s not that several jobs were lost, instead, Stats SA reports that at least 330 000 people DID get a job during these months. They were mostly in the formal sector, private households, the informal sector and agriculture. 

But the job losses did outweigh the number of jobs gained, Stats SA reported. 

Read more about South Africa’s unemployment crisis here and how we can fix it here