While the latest unemployment data shows the country worse off than at the end of 2019, things are expected to get much worse.

Stats SA has published its latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the three months to March 2020, revealing that the country’s unemployment rate rose in the first quarter of the year.

According to Stats SA, the official unemployment rate increased by 1.0 percentage point to 30.1% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.

The number of employed persons decreased by 38,000 to 16.4 million and the number of unemployed persons increased by 344,000 to 7.1 million in Q1: 2020 compared to Q4: 2019, resulting in an increase of 306,000 in the labour force.

The largest employment decreases were observed in the formal sector (50,000), followed by the Agricultural sector with 21,000 in Q1: 2020.

On the other hand, employment in the informal sector and Private households increased by 3,000 and 30,000 respectively.



Between Q4: 2019 and Q1: 2020, the number of employed persons decreased in seven of the ten industries, with the largest decline recorded in Finance (50,000), followed by Community and social services (33 000) and Agriculture (21 000). Increases in employment were recorded in the Trade (71,000), Private households (30,000) and Mining (6,000) industries.

Compared to the same period last year, a net increase of 91,000 in total employment in Q1: 2020 was largely due to gains in the number of people employed in the community and social services (185,000), Agriculture (27,000), Mining (18,000), and Private households (15,000) industries.

Employment losses were recorded in the Manufacturing (74,000), Utilities (34,000), Transport (30,000) and Trade (25,000) industries during the same period.

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