Tuesday, August 8th, 2017
In the wake of labour force figures recently released by Statistics South Africa (SSA), trade union Solidarity today expressed its concern about the persistent weak unemployment statistics that are prevailing in South Africa.
This follows after SSA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) showed for the second quarter of 2017 that unemployment, according to its expanded definition, has risen from the 36,4% realised in Quarter 1 of 2017 to 36,6% in Q2 (27,7% taken by its narrow definition). That means to say that there are currently an estimated 9,3 million unemployed people in South Africa who want to work.
According to Gerhard van Onselen, economics researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI), this is the sixth consecutive quarter since Q4 2015 in which the number of unemployed people measured on the expanded definition has increased faster on a year-on-year basis than the number of those who are employed. “Employment growth, which has weakened notably since the axing of Nhlanhla Nene at the end of 2015 played a large role in this” Van Onselen said.
Van Onselen contends that while there has been a relative improvement in employment during the past two quarters of 2017 on a year-on-year basis, it is not nearly enough to significantly reduce unemployment in South Africa. Even the relatively favourable business cycle indicators, such as a stronger rand and better resource prices, seen over the past two quarters, did not make a significant difference,” Van Onselen said.
“The reality is that political uncertainty and reckless policy actions, such as the new mining charter, do not help improve unfavourable labour conditions. What is urgently needed at this stage is that a more market-friendly policy and political environment be established. Without more market-friendly economic policies and a reduction of government interventionism in the economy, the South African economy would remain unnecessarily entangled in red-tape,” Van Onselen cautioned.
“Impediments of this nature will effectively result in many young people having to remain outside formal jobs. Deregulation and policy reform towards freer markets would do much to stimulate the economy,” Van Onselen added.