Unemployment in the fourth quarter of 2019 was flat at 29.1%, Statistics SA’s quarterly labour force survey (QLFS) revealed on Tuesday, the first time it has not decreased in the fourth quarter since 2008.
Using the expanded definition of unemployment – which includes discouraged work seekers, that is, individuals who are available to work but have stopped looking for a job – the unemployment rate increased to 38.7% quarter-on-quarter.
At these levels, SA’s unemployment rate is deemed to be unsustainably high as the country’s economy battles to grow and create jobs.
The QLFS is a household survey taken by Stats SA that covers both the formal and informal sector, as well as agricultural workers and households.
Ahead of the release, some economists noted that the unemployment rate might fall in the fourth quarter as it has typically done historically, thanks in part to festive season trade.
Absa senior economists Miyelani Maluleke and Peter Worthington noted that jobs tend to be added in the manufacturing, trade, transport, financial and community sectors in the fourth quarter of the year. But in the fourth quarter of 2019, the trade sector saw a loss of 159,000 jobs from the previous quarter.
In the past, this sector has traditionally seen an uptick in temporary jobs numbers during the fourth quarter as it gears up for festive season shopping, according Malerato Mosiane, the acting chief director of labour statistics at Stats SA. -Businesslive