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South Africa’s unemployment rate reaches record high above 30%

Screen Shot 2020-11-16 at 3.42.45 PM

Alexander Winning, Reuters/Daily Maverick, 12 November 2020, photo credit: HyperionDev Blog

South Africa’s unemployment rate struck a record high of 30.8% in the third quarter, a big jump from the previous quarter when figures were distorted by lockdown restrictions that prevented people from job-hunting, the statistics agency said on Thursday.

The agency only classifies people as unemployed if they are actively looking for work, which meant the unemployment rate was artificially low at 23.3% in the April-June quarter compared to 29.1% in the third quarter of last year.

Africa’s most industrialised economy has long suffered from extremely high levels of unemployment, trapping millions in poverty and contributing to stark inequalities that persist more than two decades after the end of apartheid in 1994.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has put job creation at the heart of a plan to help the economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Indeed the 30.8% is the highest we have recorded,” Statistician General Risenga Maluleke told a news conference. The figure was the highest since the survey began in 2008.
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