Already at an all-time high, SA’s unemployment rate continues to rise


Statistics South Africa announced the unemployment rate for the fourth quarter of 2021 (Q4:2021) on Tuesday, 29 March. The official unemployment rate increased by 0,4% to 35,3% in the final quarter of the financial year.


Stats SA said the results of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the fourth quarter revealed that both the number of employed persons and unemployed persons increased.

In Q4, the number of employed persons increased by 262 000 to 14,5 million while unemployed persons increased by 278 000 to 7,9 million compared to Q3.

Meanwhile, there were decreases in a number of other categories. Fewer people are classified as “not economically active” (a decrease of 397 000 to 17,4m) and the number of discouraged work-seekers decreased by 56 000 while the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement decreased by 341 000.

The aforementioned decreases resulted in a lower expanded unemployment rate – which is seen as a more accurate reflection of the joblessness in the country as it includes discouraged job seekers.

“The unemployment rate according to the expanded definition of unemployment decreased by 0,4 of a percentage point to 46,2 % in quarter 4 2021 compared to quarter 3 2021,” said Stats SA.

The Statistician’s office confirmed that the official unemployment rate of 35,3% in Q4 is the highest the rate has been since the start of the QLFS in 2008.


Stats SA said the formal employment sector added 143 000 jobs between quarters while the informal sector shed 48 000 jobs during the same period.

“Between the 3rd quarter of 2021 and 4th quarter of 2021, a net increase in employment of 262 000, was mainly due to an increase recorded in Private households (129 000), Trade (118 000) and Community and social services (73 000). Decreases were observed mainly in Manufacturing (85 000), followed by Construction (25 000),” said the government.



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