Too many job seekers and not enough jobs

A report on population growth published by Stats SA shows that the supply of jobs in South Africa will never meet demand.

The Quarterly Labour Force Survey which was published recently revealed that the number of unemployed people continues to grow along with the population.

Saturated labour market

During the second quarter of 2019 there were 25,000 additional jobs compared to the previous year, however the labour force has increased by 598,000 work seekers.

That means that for every 24 people who entered the labour market, only one job was available.

This is due to situations like 1,000 jobs being lost in the agricultural sector and 45,000 jobs lost as private households have cut back on the employment of domestic workers.

No choice but to join the informal sector

Nobody aspires to sell clothes hangers or toys at the traffic lights but according to the report, the only category to increase in employment is the informal sector which apparently grew by 219,000 jobs.

This is a clear indication that the country is losing the battle against unemployment and people desperate to feed their family have little choice but to enter the informal sector.

Due to an increase of almost three million people in the population and labour force since the 2014 statistics, the economy has only been able to absorb 1.3-million work seekers.

Defining the unemployed

You would think that the unemployment situation would be as simple as counting those who are working and those who aren’t however where would someone be classified if they were currently self-employed but seeking employment.

In order to be counted as ‘officially unemployed’ by Stats SA a jobless person must be actively seeking employment. This is according to the national statistics service’s definition and is consistent with International Labour Organisation (ILO) logic which states that those who who are unemployed and not looking, will not find work.

Provincial and gender unemployment

The North West province has the highest unemployment rate at 46.6% followed very closely by the Eastern Cape at 46.5%.

Gauteng and the Western Cape are the only two provinces whose unemployment is below 40%.

It has also been noted that 43.5% of women compared to 35% of men are unemployed.

The future is looking bleak for employment opportunity

The latest research by Stats SA estimates that the total population in SA increased by about 1.4% in the last year to almost 58.8-million people.

Taking into consideration the 0.6% growth in GDP, which is the annual amount of goods and services produced in the country, every individual has less than they did a year ago.

With a reduction in infant mortality and an increase in life expectancy, from 69 years in 2004 to around 73 years for those born in 2019, as well as an influx of immigrations from the rest of Africa attributing to the increase in the country’s population.

Our population is also fairly young with around 29% of the population being under the age of 15 and more than 42-million people younger than 40.