THE unemployment rate fell to 23,9% between the third and fourth quarters of last year, Statistics South Africa said in Pretoria on Tuesday.
“Between the third and fourth quarters of 2011, the number of unemployed persons decreased by 198 000,” said Kefiloe Masiteng, deputy director-general of population and social statistics, at the release of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the fourth quarter of 2011.
This, she said, compared to an unemployment rate of 25% in the third quarter of last year. However, 4,2m people in South Africa were still unemployed.
Of those unemployed, 2,9m, or 67,5%, had been looking for work for a year or longer. About 60,6% of job seekers do not have matric.
“This means they stand a higher chance of remaining unemployed going into the future because of their level of education,” Masiteng said.
Unemployment was highest among youths aged 15 to 34 years, and was higher for women than men.
Masiteng said it appeared that jobs had started being created in 2011.
“There is a sense that the economy is growing and jobs are starting to be created, ” she said.
However, she warned that the number of jobs traditionally grew every year in the fourth quarter due to increased contractual work over the festive season.
According to the survey about 13,5m people were employed in the fourth quarter, which was a net gain of about 365 000 compared to the same period in 2010.
Job growth in 2011 had not made up for the loss of 118 000 jobs in 2010 and 777 000 in 2009.
The formal sector grew by 435 000 jobs in 2011 compared to 2010. This was after it lost 538 000 jobs over 2009 and 2010. The informal sector shed 91 000 jobs in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to the same period the year before. This was the second consecutive quarter of losses in this sector.
Masiteng said this could be seen as positive as jobs in the formal sector might be more sustainable. The increase in formal sector jobs was driven by a gain in the finance and business services industry of 145 000 jobs, followed by trade with 85 000 jobs, and community and social services with 76 000 jobs.
Under the expanded definition of unemployment, which covers people not actively seeking work in the past four weeks but available to start work almost immediately, the rate was 35,4% in the fourth quarter of 2011. This was down from 35,8% in the corresponding quarter in 2010. – The Good News, Sapa