Bay unemployment drops by 2.2%

Welcome news of positive growth in metro as Stats SA releases latest quarterly figures

Unemployment in Nelson Mandela Bay declined by 2.2% in the fourth quarter of last year, with the metro seeing the second highest increase in employment over the same period.

According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the period from October to December, released by Stats SA yesterday, the metro’s unemployment rate dropped from 31.8% to 29.6%, leaving about 4 000 fewer people unemployed.

Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber chief executive Kevin Hustler welcomed the news.

However, Hustler said nearly nine million people in the country remained unemployed, highlighting the need for greater focus on education, skills development and facilitating conditions which would encourage the growth of small businesses.

“We are particularly pleased with Nelson Mandela Bay showing a 2.2% decline in unemployment over the last quarter of 2016,” he said.

“But we need a much more stable political and economic environment which is conducive to promoting an enabling business environment to grow more jobs in the country.”

In Nelson Mandela Bay, 22 000 people entered the job market in the last quarter, while 26 000 found employment. This meant the unemployment figure dropped from about 159 000 to around 155 000.

In contrast, unemployment in the Buffalo City metro went up by about 5.3%, equating to 26 000 more people in need of employment.

The Eastern Cape as a whole saw unemployment rise from 28.2% to 28.4% in the fourth quarter of last year.

South Africa recorded positive growth in the job market during the last quarter of last year‚ with employment growing by 235 000 and the number of job seekers declining by 92 000.

According to the survey‚ the positive growth resulted in a slight decline in the unemployment rate by 0.6 of a percentage point to 26.5%.

The growth was mainly driven by the services industry, which grew by 73 000‚ followed by transport and manufacturing, which grew by 46 000 and 44 000 respectively.

All other sectors reported employment growth quarter to quarter except mining and construction, which declined by 17 000 and 9 000 respectively.

The results released by statistician-general Pali Lehohla indicate that although the official unemployment rate declined by 0.6 of a percentage point quarter to quarter to 26.5%‚ it is still two percentage points higher compared with the same period last year.

The unemployment rate declined in four of the nine provinces‚ with the North West registering the biggest decline of four percentage points‚ followed by Limpopo at 2.6 percentage points‚ the Western Cape at 1.2 percentage points and Gauteng at 0.5 of a percentage point.

The results indicate that the expanded unemployment, which includes those who wanted to work but did not look for work, decreased by 116 000‚ resulting in a decline of 0.7 of a percentage point in the expanded unemployment rate to 35.6%.

However‚ there are still 8.9 million people who want jobs but have none. Though youth unemployment registered a decline of 1.1 percentage points quarter to quarter‚ young people aged between 15 and 34 remain the most vulnerable in the labour space‚ with the jobless rate in this cohort at 37.1% – 10.6 percentage points above the national average.

Lehohla reiterated that education played an important role in labour market outcomes‚ saying those with an education level of less than matric contributed 59% of the unemployed‚ with an unemployment rate of 31.2%. – Additional reporting TMG Digital/The Times

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