The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) is absolutely dismayed by the announcement made this afternoon on the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the first quarter of 2017, increasing the number of job-seekers by 433 000, to drive the unemployment rate to 27,7%. This staggering unemployment rate was last observed in September 2003.

With only two and a half years left to reach the National Development Plan’s (NDP) vision of an unemployment rate of 14% by 2020, that dream is certainly a far cry from the current realities in South Africa, emphasized FEDUSA Acting President, Chris Klopper. The gap to 2020 currently stands at 13.7%, with no respite anticipated in the new future.

The expanded unemployment which includes those who wanted to work but did not look for work increased by 391 000 people, resulting in an increase of 0,8 of a percentage point in the expanded unemployment rate to 36,4%.

Of the 433 000 people who joined the ranks of the unemployed, approximately 58% were young people aged 15-34 increasing the youth unemployment rate by 1,6 percentage points to 38,6%. These new youth unemployment statistics is an extremely bitter pill to swallow, following FEDUSA’s full support and championing of the extension of the Employment Tax Incentive (ETI) scheme by another two – year period, to encourage youth employment by both small and large businesses. Whilst the policy interventions have been negotiated and implemented, FEDUSA believes that concerted efforts by both big and small business must be driven with intensity, to ensure that the intent of offering some solution to addressing the structural challenges of unemployment, through attempting to increase the levels of employability and experience of both unemployed youth and graduates who fail to secure formal employment, is realized, argued Klopper.

Although the quarter to quarter figures show a decrease in employment, the growth in employment was observed in all industries except Agriculture, trade and services. The biggest growth was observed in Manufacturing (62 000), Finance & other business services (49 000) and Mining (26 000). FEDUSA is pleased that an eventual reversal of the mining statistics has been noted, following the growth records for the first time in quarter 1 of 2017, after declining for four successive quarters.

South Africa’s high unemployment is one of the contributory factors that have been constraining consumer spending and stifling inclusive economic growth. Total commitment, constructive interventions and collaboration that paves the way for more sound and stable economic and labour relations must be encouraged to ensure rapid and inclusive economic development, insisted Klopper.

FEDUSA remains committed to the spirit of deepened collaboration, to find workable solutions that will lead towards economic prosperity, poverty eradication and equality. However, responsive and responsible leadership is needed now more than ever, to reverse the undue losses we have encountered, to reassure investors and improve investment outlooks for our membership and the country overall, concluded Klopper.

[481 words]

FEDUSA is the largest politically non-aligned trade union federation in South Africa and represents a diverse membership from a variety of sectors in industry.  See www.fedusa.org.za for more information.


For interviews:

Chris Klopper

FEDUSA Acting President 

083 708 7733