Statistic South Africa has released their analysis of the unemployment figures of the second quarter of 2014 and they indicate that the unemployment rate has increased by 0.03%, up from the figure of the first quarter of 2014 when it sat at 25.2%.
According to StatSA, the number of unemployed persons increased to its highest level since the year 2008. They further elaborate that between the first and the second quarter of 2014, the number of unemployed persons increased by 87 000 to 5.2 million, the highest level since the inception of the Quarterly Labor Force Survey in 2008. Furthermore, they posit that the number of what they call discouraged job seekers increased by more than sixty thousand people. This was offset by the group of not economically active people that decreased by 35 000 individuals and this resulted in a net increase of just 29 000 people.
StatSA added the fact that more people were actually being employed in the second quarter of the year than in the first. However, the unemployment rate had increased because the available labour force was growing much faster than the rate at which people are finding employment. They further said that the gains in actual employment figures had been observed in both the first and second quarters of the year. However, the number of people employed was also growing at a negative rate. Turning directly to unemployment, the central statistical office said that, compared to the same time in the previous year, the number of the unemployed had increased by 182 000 in the second quarter of the year. However, in the not economically active group, there was a decrease of six thousand while in the economically active group, there was an increase of 41 000.
Turning to more positive news, StatSA, said that employment increased by 403 000 and this, they said was largely due to increases in community and social services, trade and private house holds. However, they added that jobs were mainly lost in manufacturing and agriculture.
There are speculations among the labour circles that the recent industrial action in the mining and engineering sectors may have contributed to the decline in the employment rate. The platinum mine workers went on a prolonged strike that started in January and was only settled in June after months of protracted negotiations. No sooner had this strike been resolved than the workers in the metal and engineering sector embarked on their own which was only resolved on Monday, if only tentatively and fragile at that! It is also anticipated that the situation may get worse before it gets better. This mainly emanates from the the anticipation that the strikes will most certainly result in job losses when things return to normal.