Women, youth remain the most vulnerable in the labour market

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The latest unemployment data shows a wide gender gap - as the world observes International Women's Day on 8 March.

The latest unemployment numbers from Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) in its Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) shows women are still a large portion of long-term unemployed people.

It indicated that women and the youth are still the most vulnerable demographic in the job market, despite the country's slight drop in its unemployment rate.

According to the figures released by Stats SA, 169,000 jobs were gained between the third (Q3) and the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2022, resulting in 15,9 million people being employed in Q4:2022.

According to Stats SA, compared to men, women are more likely to remain unemployed for longer periods, which eventually affects their chances of being employed in the future. In this respect, in Q4:2022, 80.6 percent of women were in long-term unemployment compared to their male counterparts with 76.1 percent. The incidence of long-term unemployment among women has consistently been higher than the national average. Although men recorded the highest increase in the incidence of long-term unemployment, the incidence among women was higher in 2012 and 2022.

Meanwhile, figures also show that the youth (aged 15-34 years) unemployment rate for the same period edged higher to 45.3 percent from 45,5 percent in Q3:2022. The total number of unemployed youth increased by 46.000 to 4.6 million in Q4:2022.

The finance industry, private households, trade and transport were the industries that recorded the largest job gains while community and social services, agriculture and construction industries saw a dip in numbers.

Navigating the tough tide
The current energy crisis has been cited by many commentators as the single most important factor to getting the economy going and creating jobs, particularly at a time when the country needs to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the 2023 PwC’s “Economic Outlook for South Africa’ report, the country had the potential to achieve a growth rate of seven percent in both 2021 and 2022, but was restricted by loadshedding.

“Growth was below potential in 2022 due to, mainly, ongoing loadshedding, and is expected to continue to underperform in 2023 due to the expected regular implementation of rolling blackouts. The relationship between economic growth and employment is well-established,” noted Christie Viljoen, PwC South Africa senior economist.

The report findings furthermore estimated that power cuts reduced potential real GDP growth by five percentage points in 2022. This cost the country around 600,000 potential jobs: “While small businesses have a smaller overall impact on GDP compared to large corporations, they play a large role in employment, food security and community stability. These small businesses are seeing production downtime, increased supply chain costs and reduced operating hours.”

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