Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) believes the growing unemployment rate in the country is a source of great concern for the business sector and the country at large.
BLSA CEO, Bonang Mohale, has expressed worry at a doggedly high unemployment rate, which increased by 0.3ppt to 27.5% in the third quarter of 2018. The expanded definition of unemployment, which includes despondent people who have stopped looking for work, rose to 37.3% in the third quarter of 2018 from 37.2% in the second quarter. This was the highest jobless rate since the third quarter of 2017, as the number of unemployed increased by 127 000 to 6.21 million.
BLSA is particularly troubled that the mining and manufacturing sectors as well as private households shed the most number of jobs, as these sectors used to be a strong source of employment, particularly for the low and semi-skilled. The unemployment rate for South Africans between the ages of 15 and 24 was recorded at 53%.
“The youth and the future of the country will always be intrinsically linked; because none can exist without the other. The bleak youth unemployment figures sadly point to a grim future for this country, and all social partners need to beef up on interventions to create job opportunities,” said Mohale. To have an unemployment rate of 27.5%, based on a narrow definition (of the IOL), is simply not sustainable. “The fact that more than half of our youth remain unemployed is, a powder keg – an explosion that is about to go off. Until and unless we address this with unflinching single-mindedness, deliberately and consciously, we are laying the foundation for our own destruction”, he said.
If anything, this deeply troubling statistic points to an urgent need to truly place the economic growth agenda of our country as the foremost topic of our dialogue as a nation. When the economy grows, we can then talk about the redistribution of wealth and not the redistribution of poverty. All efforts should be directed towards labour-absorbing growth. We need to revive manufacturing, agriculture, tourism and mining amongst others, as these are crucial sectors that have the potential to absorb a workforce that also consists of low and/ or semi-skilled labour.
For full quarterly labour force survey click here