The world’s biggest unemployment crisis is right here in South Africa‚ according to economist Mike Schussler.
Delivering the UASA trade union’s 17th South African Employment Report (SAER)‚ he said the number of unemployed had increased from 6-million to 9.6-million between 2001 and 2018.
This was a 60% increase in the broader rate of unemployment‚ which had had a devastating effect on inequality and poverty in the country‚ said Schussler.
“South Africa is one of the few countries in the world where there are more adults not at work than adults at work.
“Along with other factors‚ such as single female-headed households‚ this low number of employed results in much of South Africa’s poverty and inequality.
“The magnitude of the crisis is the single biggest crisis facing South Africa. South Africa is the only country that our research finds has had a 20% plus unemployment rate for over two decades‚” Schussler said.
Schussler presented the UASA SAER findings‚ at the University of Johannesburg School of Hospitality and Tourism in Johannesburg on Monday.
Apart from the number of unemployed‚ he noted that 6.1 million South Africans were physically looking for work‚ stating this was according to the official definition which in 2017 made South Africa the country with the highest unemployment rate in the world.
Working-age South Africans are six times more likely to be unemployed than the average adult worldwide‚ he said.
“The unemployment rate in South Africa is higher than that of the United States during the Great Depression when unemployment reached 25%.”
To attempt to solve the problem of unemployment‚ Schussler said accelerated economic growth was the only sustainable way to tackle it.
“No country in the world can tell its citizens that there will be massive unemployment for decades to come.”
For rapid economic growth to happen‚ South Africa needed to create macro-economic stability and certainty.
A 5.5% average unemployment rate in South Africa in 2043 would still mean that about 1.8 million adults would be unemployed by then‚ Schussler stated.