The real employment rate in South Africa


A new study reveals that only 43% of all South Africans between the ages of 15 and 64 are working, while 59% have no education or have not completed high school.

The Solidarity Research Institute has released its report on the South African labor market, which puts the general unemployment rate at 35.8%, while the official unemployment rate is 25.4%.

StatsSA is due to release unemployment figures for the fourth quarter of 2014 on Tuesday, February 10.

Lead researcher Paul Joubert said the South African labor market is plagued by high unemployment. More than a third of all people who want to work cannot find work.

He indicated that the equivalent rate for member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is around 65%.

For South Africa to reach that level, eight million more people would need to start working, Solidarity said.

“Furthermore, only around 31% of all adults in South Africa are employed in the formal sector – the remaining 12% who are employed, work in the informal sector or as servants, gardeners or agricultural workers,” Joubert said. .


Solidarity pointed out that 35.5 million people who are officially of “working age” include
only two-thirds of the total population, as South Africa’s population is relatively young.

Of the 35.5 million, only 15.1 million have any kind of employment – ​​this is how the employment rate of 43% is determined.

“However, that doesn’t mean the remaining 57% of working-age people are all unemployed,” Joubert said.

“People can only be unemployed if they want to work. If someone chooses not to work, it’s not a problem for them if they don’t have a job. For example, it is certainly not a problem that 6.3 million students do not have a job. The real problem is the 8.4 million people who would like to work but cannot find a job.

Of the 8.4 million, 3.3 million are no longer actively looking for work, as they have lost hope of finding a job, Solidarity said.

Employment rate
Employment rate

The research indicated that a significant reason for this is that the growth areas of the South African economy are primarily sectors in which an employee must have an academic or post-school technical background to be successful.

The combined tertiary sector of the economy accounts for around 70% of the value generated annually in the country.

The report notes that only 13% of South Africa’s adult population have a tertiary education, while only a further 28% have a matric certificate.

“Although these percentages are steadily increasing, it is clear that there is still a great imbalance between the type of employees that the growth sectors of the economy need and the nature of the potential employees available,” he said. declared.

Solidarity said there is a perception that there is an abnormally high number of
unemployed graduates in South Africa. This notion has been voiced often in public discourse in recent years by figures such as Jimmy Manyi and even President Jacob Zuma.

However, Joubert dispels the myth of graduate unemployment in South Africa, concluding that in South Africa only about 100,000 out of two million graduates are unemployed at any given stage.


Learn more about working in South Africa

The shocking truth about jobs in South Africa

Unemployment in South Africa: 1994 – 2015


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