The South African unemployment rate, already the highest in the world, is inching closer to the 30% mark, StatsSA data has revealed.

Released today, the Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the first quarter of 2017 (January to March) shows that unemployment is now 27.7%, up by 1.2% from December 2016.

This rate, according to StatsSA, is the highest in 13 years.

The number of discouraged job seekers (those who’ve tried looking for a job, have been unsuccessful and have thus given up), decreased from 22 920 in December 2016, to 22 770 in Q1 2017.

What’s even scarier is that the expanded unemployment, which includes those who wanted to work but did not look for work. increased by 391 000 people. This resulted in an increase of 0.8% point percent in the expanded unemployment rate to 36.4%. This is approximately 9.3 million persons who did not have a job but wanted to work.

The good news is that the employment rate also increased, although slightly, from 43.5% to 43.7% (500 000 people compared to the same period in 2016), up 0.7% compared to the first quarter of 2016 (43%).

The growth in employment was observed in all industries except agriculture, trade and services. The biggest growth was observed in manufacturing (62 000), finance and other business services (49 000) as well as mining (26 000).

All Metros registered growth in employment except Nelson Mandela Bay, Mangaung and City of Johannesburg which remained virtually unchanged.

Of the unemployed, 58% were young people aged between 15 and 34, increasing the youth unemployment rate by 1.6 percentage points to 38.6%.

See the full labour force data on the StatsSA website.

[Image – CC geralt]