15/02/2017 06:48 GMT | Updated 20/02/2017 10:02 GMT

Unemployment Is Down, But Youth Remain Vulnerable

Youth unemployment dropped slightly, while mining continues to bleed jobs

Gallo Images / Beeld / Deaan Vivier
Food and Allied Workers Union members march to the European Union embassy on February 1, 2017 in Pretoria, demanding a halt to the chicken imports that have led to the local poultry industry job loss crisis.

Unemployment in the country declined slightly in the last quarter of 2016, thanks to slightly positive economic growth, according to unemployment information released by Statistics SA on Tuesday.

The Times reported that employment grew by 235,000 and that the number of job seekers declined by 92,000. This was mainly driven by growth in the services industry, transport and manufacturing.

However, Business Day reported that the mining industry was still "bleeding" jobs. According to the newspaper, the working-age labour force (between 15 and 64 years) is 36.9 million. Of that number, 15.1 million are not economically active, while 21.8 million are economically active; just more than 16 million of the active labour force are employed and 5.8 million are unemployed.

The mining sector lost 17,000 jobs in the third and fourth quarters of 2016; overall, from 2012-2016, mining has lost 60,000 jobs, the newspaper reported.

Roger Baxter, CEO of the Chamber of Mines, told Business Day that the industry had suffered a net loss of R50 billion from 2014-2016. He pointed to rising input costs like steel, labour and electricity as key drivers.

The Times said youth unemployment declined by 1.1 percentage points quarter-to-quarter, and young people remained "the most vulnerable" in the labour market.

The paper quoted Statistician-General Pali Lehohla as saying that education played an important role in this. Reportedly, young people without a matric contribute 59 percent of the unemployed youth, with an unemployment rate of 31.2 percent.