Unemployment increased by 0,6 of a percentage point to 43,2% in quarter one
DURBAN – AN alarmingly high unemployment rate is unsurprisingly not the only discouraging factor for job seekers. They are also discouraged by the cost that comes with applying.
“Spending your last cents to buy data so you can browse for jobs, the data we need to email job applications, and even sending job applications via the post office or any other courier service is costly for a person who is unemployed,” said Fisokuhle Hadebe, a University of the Free State graduate who is trying to find employment.
“Being unemployed is stressful on its own. Having to worry about sourcing funds to buy data and post applications is even worse. The social relief of distress grant came in very handy. Now that it is no more, I am even more discouraged to apply,” said Thembisa Mvelase, a University of KwaZulu-Natal graduate.
Statistics South Africa declared 2021’s first quarter official unemployment rate the highest since the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) Survey began in 2008.
“The unemployment rate according to the expanded definition of unemployment increased by 0.6 of a percentage point to 43.2% in quarter 1, 2021 compared to quarter 4, 2020,” said Risenga Maluleke, statistician general of South Africa.
Moreover, the number of discouraged job seekers has increased compared to last year.
“The number of discouraged work-seekers increased by 201 000 (6.9%), and the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement decreased by 38000 (0.3%),” said Maluleke.
According to Maluleke, these changes can seemingly be small but enough to make a notable difference.
“These minor changes resulted in the official unemployment rate increasing by 0.1 of a percentage point from 32.5% in the fourth quarter of 2020 to 32.6% in the first quarter of 2021,” said Maluleke.
Human rights organisation Black Sash said the country was facing an unemployment crisis and the government should create more jobs and also use more extensive social security programmes, since it had a constitutional obligation to provide social security.
“The QLFS demonstrated that the government’s policies and programmes have yet again failed to increase job opportunities for the millions who are unemployed,” said Esley Philander, Black Sash spokesperson.
The organisation was still pleading with the government to reinstate the social relief of distress grant.
“The government must reinstate the special R350 Covid-19 grant indefinitely and increase it to at least the Food Poverty Line, currently R585,” said Philander.