Growing unemployment erodes our people’s dignity

Another blow to the labour market with the unemployment rate in South Africa being at its highest since the start of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) in 2008. In the latest QLFS for the third quarter of 2021, results showed an increase in the unemployment rate to 34,9% with the expanded definition of unemployment increasing to 46,6%. This is illustrated by the decrease in the number of employed persons to 14,3 million.

The number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement, increased by 443 000 between the two quarters resulting in a net increase of 988 000 in the not-economically active population. The Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng recorded the highest decrease in employment with Gauteng leading with a 200 092 change in employment between Q2 and Q3.

It is not all bad news as skilled agricultural employment increased by 18 000 from 45 000 to 63 000 with overall employment increasing by 21 000 year on year. The Western Cape’s agricultural sector increased by 12 000 jobs following the Eastern Cape with an increase of 25 000 jobs. Nonetheless, in comparison to Q2, agriculture recorded a decrease in employment by 32 000 jobs with KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo leading with the highest records of job losses.

“Rising unemployment is the biggest driver of poverty in South Africa. Not only does it pose a threat to social stability in our country, but it also erodes the dignity of those who struggle to find a job and who are unable to feed themselves and their families. Dignity is one of the grounding values in South Africa’s Constitution. It is linked to a person’s sense of worthiness, self-esteem, self-respect and desire to rise above poverty-stricken circumstances for the better,” says Christo van der Rheede, Executive Director of Agri SA.

The high levels of unemployment amongst adults and young people, in particular, have reached crisis levels which must be addressed as a matter of urgency. A collective effort by business, government, civil society and other stakeholders is now required to create a conducive environment for businesses in all economic sectors to grow and create more jobs.

Agri SA is appealing to government to deal decisively with factors that deter investment and expansion of local and international businesses. And a clear and unambiguous set of actions must be rolled out to promote business growth.

“Some of the key concerns that must be resolved include the uncertain policy environment related to ownership, labour market rigidity, high crime levels, high administrative costs and bureaucratic red tape. The sharp increases in the price of petrol and diesel is another concern and government must review the levy system and ensure that levies are used to fix our roads and logistics infrastructure. Failure to deal decisively with these issues will worsen unemployment in South Africa. The unemployed demands substantial action and rightfully so”, van der Rheede continued.  



Christo van der Rheede Agri SA Executive Director 0833803492

Lebogang Sethusha Labour Administrator 0605282883