South Africa’s unemployment rate rose to 26.7 percent in the first quarter of this year from 24.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, data from the statistics office showed recently.
In its quarterly labour force survey which polls households, Statistics South Africa said this amounted to 5.7 million people without jobs in the first quarter compared with 5.2 million previously.
“The economic climate is not helping,” Statistician-General Pali Lehohla said, referring to an economy still struggling to grow after a 2008/09 recession slashed about a million jobs. The unemployment rate is expected to edge up to 25.3 percent in the first quarter.
South Africa’s economy is shedding jobs as companies struggle to operate in the low growth environment while more people are entering the labour market to look for jobs. This, along with the fact that more people became of working age and started looking for jobs contributed to a higher unemployment rate.
“Following employment gains in seven consecutive quarters, second quarter of 2014 to the fourth quarter of 2015, the number of employed people decreased by 355,000 in the first quarter of 2016,” Statistics South Africa said. “The decrease in the first quarter of 2016 is the largest decrease since 2010.”
The statistics office said South Africa’s working-age population increased by 159,000 to 36.4 million between the two quarters.
South Africa’s economy is struggling to grow and the IMF is predicting that GDP will increase by 0.6% this year.