Ministers say government will intensify efforts to combat unemployment and stimulate growth

But the latest unemployment figures show just how much of an uphill battle it will be to create jobs.

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi has noted with concern the figured released in the Stats SA first quarter labour force survey indicating that the number of people that are employed decreased by 38,000 to 16,4 million between January and March 2020, taking the unemployment rate up one percentage point to 30.1 pecent.

Stats SA found that the largest employment decreases were observed in the formal sector, which shed 50,000 jobs followed by the Agricultural sector with 21,000. Meanwhile The number of discouraged work-seekers increased by 63,000, with the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement decreasing by 222,000 between the two quarters.

“Those figures represent the pain experienced by individual workers, their families and communities, he said, adding that the government would now have to intensify its efforts to combat unemployment and to stimulate growth. This meant building on the strong foundations laid in the past two years, in particular  by intensifying and fast-tracking efforts to implement the Jobs Summit commitments and leveraging the capital investment raised through the Investment Conference to support productive investment and jobs. 

“From the side of the Department of Employment and Labour, the experience gained in distributing Covid-19 benefits means that the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), must be geared up to handle the expected rise in claims for ordinary UIF benefits".

In his emergency budget speach on Wednesday, Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni said that, even with the Unemployment Insurance Fund and various economic support initiatives, unemployment would remain the biggest economic challenge for South Africa in the year ahead.

"The figures from yesterday show that unemployment is our single greatest challenge. The economic support package sets aside R100 billion for a multi-year, comprehensive response to our jobs emergency. The President’s job creation and protection initiative will be rolled out over the medium-term,"said the minister during his budget speech.