Home News SA now has the highest unemployment rate in the world – and women, youth remain the most vulnerable

SA now has the highest unemployment rate in the world – and women, youth remain the most vulnerable

by Zahid Jadwat


PRETORIA – With South Africa’s unemployment rate now the highest in the world (44.4%), unemployment amongst women and youth remains extremely high.


On a list of 82 countries, unemployment in South Africa became the highest since rising to 34.4% in the second quarter from 32.6% in the three months through March, according to Statistics South Africa.


Unemployment according to the expanded definition, which includes people who are available for work but not looking for a job, rose to 44.4% from 43.2% in the first quarter.


Restrictions imposed by the government in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 and the recent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng have been blamed as the leading causes of the latest surge in unemployment. However, economist Mike Schüssler believes otherwise.


“We have truly fallen rapidly and perhaps Covid was an excuse to cut payrolls, or the knock-on impact of the corruption has come home to fry us. It is grim, very grim – hunger, poverty and misery are now truly hurting more South Africans,” he wrote in an article published by Moneyweb.


Meanwhile, women and youth remain the most vulnerable groups in the country. “The rate of unemployment among women was 36,8% in the 2nd quarter of 2021 compared to 32,4% amongst men according to the official definition of unemployment,” a statement by StatsSA reads.


“The unemployment rate among black African women was 41% during this period compared to 8.2% among white women, 22.4% among Indian/Asian women and 29.9% among coloured women.”



According to StatsSA, youth aged 15-24 years and 25-34 years recorded the highest unemployment rates of 64.4% and 42.9% respectively.


The country’s unemployment rate has averaged 26.6% since 1996, and in 1995 it was 16.9%.


Julie Alli spoke to Riefdah Ajam, general secretary of the Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA), about the official unemployment statistics in South Africa. Watch the full discussion here:

Related Videos