JOHANNESBURG: The unemployment rate in South Africa soared to its highest level on record in the final quarter of last year, official data showed Tuesday, as the impact of the pandemic continues to be felt.
The jobless rate rose 0.4 percent points to 35.3 percent in the final three months of 2021, compared to 34.9 percent in the previous quarter.
“This is the highest unemployment rate recorded since the start of the (quarterly labour force survey) in 2008,” StatsSA said in a report.
It is also the fifth increase in unemployment since the country was placed under a strict Covid lockdown in March 2020.
There are now 7.9 million unemployed people in the continent’s most industrialised country, compared to 14.5 million with jobs.
President Cyril Ramaphosa last week rolled back most of the remaining coronavirus restrictions as new infections fell and fewer deaths were reported.
The changes meant nearly all restrictions on social and economic activity were scrapped, he said.
The hardest Covid-hit African country has diagnosed more than 3.7 million infections, including 99,970 fatalities.
Compared to the same period in 2020, the expanded unemployment rate – people who are employable but have given up looking for work – has increased by 3.6 percentage points to 46.2 percent.
Young people have been particularly badly hit, with joblessness among those aged 15 to 24 years old, exceeding 66 percent.