The results of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the 4th quarter of 2019, released today, show that South Africa remains knee-deep in a jobs bloodbath, with an official unemployment rate of 29.1%.
The QLFS revealed that between Quarter 3 and Quarter 4 of 2019, the number of discouraged work-seekers increased by 62 000 and those who were not active in the labour market for other reasons other than discouragement increased by 45 000 resulting in a net increase of 107 000 in the number of those who were not economically active. The proportion of those in long-term unemployment increased from 59,9% in Q4:2009 to 73,3% in Q4:2019.
This means that an ever-growing number of South Africans will not be able to afford to put bread on the table, or clothe and care for their families. They are excluded from the economy, consigned to a life of hardship and indignity because of the ANC’s failure to put in place measures that will help grow the economy and create jobs.
Every day almost 1700 adults join the labour market but fewer than 500 of them can find work. Young people aged between 15 and 34 are the hardest hit. Between 2008 and 2019 the population of young people grew by 2.2 million but the number employed declined by more than 500 000.
President Cyril Ramaphosa urgently needs to announce a comprehensive action plan to address the unemployment crisis – and youth unemployment in particular – when he delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday night.
The President should use the opportunity to announce a thoroughgoing programme of labour reform that would include legal exemptions for small and new firms from collective bargaining agreements to which they are not party.
He should also prioritise the expansion of the employment tax incentive to include more young workers for a longer period.
Above all, the President needs to explain clearly how the ANC intends to reverse our economic decline and start growing the economy at a rate that will lead to job creation.
This means a plan to fix the mess at Eskom in order to ensure proper energy supply, and watertight assurances on the sanctity of property rights as the threat of expropriation without compensation looms.
Without those two things, the economy will continue to implode and job losses will continue to mount like corpses in a slaughterhouse.