The results of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the second quarter of 2019, released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), indicate that the official unemployment rate increased by 1,4 percentage points to 29,0% compared to the first quarter of 2019. The number of unemployed persons increased by 455 000 to 6,7 million in Q2: 2019 compared to Q1: 2019, resulting in an increase of 476 000 in the labour force.
The South African working-age population increased by 150 000 in Q2: 2019 compared to Q1: 2019. The number of employed persons increased by 21 000 to 16,3 million in Q2: 2019, and the number of unemployed persons also increased by 455 000 to 6,7 million compared to Q1: 2019, resulting in an increase of 476 000 (up by 2,1%) in the number of people in the labour force. The absorption rate, which is the proportion of the working-age population that is employed, decreased by 0,2 of a percentage point to 42,4%.
In South Africa, the level of unemployment is high and there are few jobs that people can compete for. About 71,5% of those in unemployment have been looking for work for a period of a year or longer. There are a number of reasons why people choose to not seek employment. Not economically active is defined as those who were not employed during the reference period, wanted to work, were available to work or to start a business but did not take active steps to find work in the four weeks preceding the survey interview. These persons are regarded as discouraged work-seekers if the main reason for not seeking work was either that there were no jobs available in the area, they were unable to find work requiring their skills or they lost hope of finding any kind of work.
In the second quarter of 2019 the number of discouraged work-seekers decreased by 248 000. The number of people who did not look for work for reasons other than discouragement decreased by 77 000 compared to the first quarter of 2019, resulting in a net decrease of 326 000 in the number of people out of the labour force.
This decrease in discouragement stems from the number of discouraged work-seekers and the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement decreasing by 248 000 and 77 000, respectively, between the first and the second quarters of 2019, resulting in a net decrease of 326 000 in the not economically active population.
Employment increased in two of the four sectors in Q2: 2019, with the informal sector recording the largest employment gains of 114 000, followed by the agriculture sector with 5 000. The formal sector and private households declined by 49 000 each, resulting in the net increase of 21 000 in total employment.
For more information on the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, download the full report here