SA’s Unemployment Crisis Stats

The Jobs Summit, which will kick off later this week, is a joint effort by various stakeholders to find solutions to SA’s unemployment crisis.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the summit during his State of the Nation Address in February, and it is intended to yield practical solutions for SA’s ailing economy.

So far the Congress of South African Trade Unions has raised concerns that the summit will be another talk shop, with little action following.

The Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE) has also stressed the importance of ensuring the summit is not a wasted opportunity and must deal with the key constraints to job creation.

“Previous strategies, approaches and summits have proven unable to address the unemployment challenge. Since the National Development Plan (2012) had set as its target to reduce the unemployment rate to 14% by 2020 and to 6% by 2030, it has increased to 27.2%,” noted Anne Bernstein, executive director of the CDE.

Fin24 compiled a list of key figures, highlighting the extent of SA’s unemployment crisis and which stress the urgency for practical intervention. All data is provided by Stats SA’s quarterly labour force survey for the second quarter of the year.

9.6 million 

SA’s unemployed population. The current unemployment rate has worsened to 27.2% from the 26.7% rate recorded in the first quarter of the year. The highest the unemployment rate has been over the past 10 years is 27.7% – as recorded over three consecutive quarters in 2017.

6.1 million

The total number of unemployed youth, as at the end of the second quarter of 2018. The unemployment rate for youth (those aged between 15 and 34) is 38.8%, compared with 17.9% for adults (those aged between 35 and 64).

90 000

The number of jobs lost during the second quarter of 2018. The manufacturing industry accounted for the most job losses: 105 000. The most jobs, 54 000, were created in the transport industry.

35 000

The number of job losses in the formal sector, with the informal seeing more than double the losses at 73 000 jobs in the review period.


The unemployment rate in the Free State, the highest among all nine provinces, followed by Eastern Cape (34.2%) and Mpumalanga (33.2%).


The unemployment rate among women, compared with 25.3% for men. Consistently since 2011, the rate of unemployment among women outweighed the rate of unemployment among men, trends from Stats SA show.


The unemployment rate for black, female youth, which is the highest among all population groups. It is followed by a rate of 37.1% for black, male youth; 36.3% for Indian/Asian female youth; and 36.1% for coloured, female youth.


The unemployment rate for those who have an education qualification less than matric. Stats SA’s data reveals a trend of the unemployment rate decreasing among those who have higher qualifications.

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