National and provincial labour market: Youth Q1: 2008 to Q1: 2014

The unemployment rate among youth increased from 32,7% to 36,1% between 2008 and 2014; in the post recessionary period, the unemployment rate has been consistently higher among youth than among adults by more than 20 percentage points. 

The report released by Statistics South Africa examines in detail various aspects of the situation faced by youth aged 15–34 years in the South African labour market, based on the first quarter results of the QLFS each year over the period 2008 to 2014.

Young people accounted for 52–64% of the working age population but are under-represented in employment, accounting for only 42–49% of the employed.  Over the period 2008–2014, in every province, there was a decline in the share of youth in the working-age population as well as in employment.

Young people face a number of challenges in the labour market:

  • Many young people have not worked before
  • The incidence of long-term unemployment among the youth is very high. The problem of long-term unemployment is particularly acute in Mpumalanga and Free State – the provinces in which the incidence of long-term unemployment also increased the most since 2008.
  • In 2014, close to two thirds of young people were unemployed for a year or longer, while young people accounted for 90% of those who are unemployed and have never worked before.
  • 26,6% of young people (15-34 years) resided in households were no one was employed. The problem is acute for both young men and women; the share of male youth who lived in households in which no one was employed rose from 46,5% in 2008 to 49,3% in 2014.

Young people aged 15–34 years are not a homogenous group, and their labour market situation often varies enormously when 5-year age categories are analysed.

  • The unemployment rate decreases with age, with unemployment rates highest among 15–19 year olds.
  • The absorption rate is highest among those aged 25–29 years and 30–34 years, and lowest among those in the youngest age group.

Among youth, the younger age categories (15–19 years and 20–24 years) are more vulnerable in the labour market as reflected in higher unemployment rates, lower absorption rates and a greater likelihood to be discouraged relative to the older age categories (25–29 years and 30–34 years).

The report is the third in a series of quarterly reports aimed at providing an analysis of various aspects of the South African labour market at provincial level, based on current labour market information.


Download – National and provincial labour market: Youth, Q1: 2008 – Q1:2014


Ms Kefiloe Masiteng

Deputy Director General: Population and Social Statistics

Tel  : 012 310 2109

Cell : 0833893673

Media Enquiries

Lesedi Dibakwane

Tel: 012 310 8578

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