Youth unemployment rate climbs to 44.3% – Statistics SA

Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) has released its Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the fourth quarter of 2023, revealing a notable increase in the country’s unemployment rate.

During a media briefing on Tuesday, Stats SA disclosed that the official unemployment rate climbed to 32.1% in the fourth quarter, marking a 0.2 percentage point rise from the previous quarter.

In the final months of 2023, according to Stats SA, South Africa witnessed shifts in its employment landscape.


The data revealed a concerning trend: a rise in unemployment with about 22 000 fewer individuals in employment, resulting in a total of 16.7-million people employed.

The official unemployment rate surges

Concurrently, the number of unemployed individuals increased by 46 000, totaling approximately 7.9-million.

According to Stats SA, there was also an upsurge of about 218 000 individuals who are not engaged in employment for reasons other than job search, reaching about 13.4-million.

Conversely, the count of individuals who ceased seeking employment decreased by 107 000 in the reporting period.

Consequently, the official unemployment rate, representing the proportion of jobless individuals, surged.

“The above changes in employment and unemployment resulted in the official unemployment rate increasing by 0.2 of a percentage point from 31.9% in the third quarter of 2023 to 32.1% in the fourth quarter of 2023,” Stats SA said.


“The unemployment rate, according to the expanded definition, decreased by 0.1 of a percentage point to 41.1% in Q4: 2023 compared to Q3: 2023.”

Delving into specific industries, disparate trends emerged: sectors such as healthcare, transportation, mining, and private households experienced job growth, while community services, construction, agriculture, trade, and manufacturing witnessed declines.

Regional disparities are evident

Regional disparities were also evident, with certain provinces like the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, the North West, and the Northern Cape facing job losses, whereas others like KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, and the Western Cape saw job gains.

The youth demographic faced exacerbated challenges, with an increase of about 87 000 unemployed young people and 97 000 fewer employed compared with previous records, resulting in a 0.9% increase in youth unemployment.

“The youth [15–34 years] remain vulnerable in the labour market; the fourth quarter of 2023 results show that the total number of unemployed youth increased by 87 000 to 4.7-million, while there was a decrease of 97 000 in the number of employed youth to 5.9-million.

“This resulted in an increase in the youth unemployment rate by 0.9 of a percentage point from 43.4% in Q3: 2023 to 44.3% in Q4: 2023,” Stats SA said.

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