While Statistics SA reported a modest decline in the country’s unemployment rate to 31.9%, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) has expressed caution, emphasizing that it’s premature to celebrate this marginal improvement.
The decrease by nearly one percentage point compared to the second quarter is seen as a positive sign, bringing employment figures back above pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels. Notably, sectors such as finance, community, and social services have played a significant role in recent job creation.
SAFTU’s Trevor Shaku, however, remains concerned about the persistently high levels of joblessness. Despite acknowledging some increases in employment over the past eight quarters, Shaku argues that the pace of improvement is slow and provides little hope for a substantial reduction in unemployment.
He highlights the concept of expanded unemployment, which considers those who have given up job hunting, showing a decrease from 42.1% in the second quarter to 41.2% in the third quarter of 2023.
Labor analysts have consistently identified structural issues in South Africa’s labor market, citing a mismatch between available skills and the jobs created. Shaku emphasizes the need to address this challenge, stating that the economy struggles to generate employment for both new entrants and those who lost jobs in the past.
Consequently, over six million individuals find themselves trapped in what is considered to be permanent unemployment. The debate over how to effectively tackle the country’s unemployment crisis continues, with a focus on creating opportunities that align with the existing skill set of the workforce.