uemployed peeps

Unemployment Crisis In South Africa

Finding a job in South Africa is possibly one of the most difficult things to do right now. If you have one, hold on to it. There are so many aspects that can be blamed for this, but we will focus on the most obvious ones. South Africa is a third world country due to it’s economic status. A considerable number of South Africans living in rural areas lack some basic amenities. People can not always do what they want to do, they do what they have to.

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Global Unemployment

The International Labour Organisation has projected global unemployment at 207 million in 2022. This is almost 21 million more than in 2019. The total hours worked in 2022 will be almost 2% below their pre-pandemic level or a deficit of 52 million full-time equivalent jobs. The youth of today are the people suffering the most. This has a negative impact on society because it creates a tough foundation to start with.

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‘Decline’ In The Unemployment Rate In SA

Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) disclosed that 370 000 jobs were gained between the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. The number of employed individuals increased from 14,5 Million in the fourth quarter of 2021 to 14,9 Million in the first quarter of 2022. The sectors which gained the most jobs were in Community and social services (281 000), Manufacturing (263 000) and Trade (98 000). Research shows a recent decline in the unemployment rate, which went from 35.3% to 34.5%. This equals to 7.8 million unemployed South Africans (IAfrica, 2022). The employment rate increased by 60 000. This is impressive compared to the first quarter of 2022.

The unemployment rate decreased due to the government finally waking up and realizing that the problem persists. This is a good sign and means the government is doing something right after all. Although I’m still not convinced because SA still remains the country with an unemployment rate that stays above 20% on a constant basis. On top of that – the cost of living has increased.

Unemployment in South Africa is associated with social problems such as poverty, violence, a loss of morale, social degradation, crime, and political disengagement.

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Cost of Living Increase

Recent studies show that South Africa has experienced a huge increase in the cost of living. It is becoming more intense with rising fuel and food prices as well as the recent increase in electricity, water and municipal tariffs (Toyana, 2020). This has caused panic across the country because now we need to consider everything we do, because if one sector’s prices goes up, so does the other.

One of the first and most shocking increases was fuel prices. South Africans already pay over R21 per litre of petrol inland after the energy department announced a R1.46 per litre increase that kicked in on 2 March 2022. Motorists will pay R1,281 to fill up a 60-litre tank with 93 unleaded. The price of diesel also increased by between R1.44 and R1.48 per litre. As for June, petrol prices are expected to reach R3.70 or more in the first week of June. If you’re rocking a 35-litre gas tank, that’s an extra R130 per top-up. If you’ve got a 45-litre tank, your petrol bill is about to go up by R167 per stop. The retail price of petrol in South Africa will increase by about 9.7% from June 3, while the price of wholesale diesel will rise by nearly 2%, the energy department said on Monday.

This increase is causing chaos amongst South Africans. People need to be more cautious about how they spend their money, as if South Africa wasn’t expensive enough as it was! People need to go to work every day, pay their bills, buy food and, on top of that, their other necessary expenses.

Estimated Cost Of Living In South Africa

  • Family of four estimated monthly costs: R 41,148
  • Single person estimated monthly costs: R 20,258
  • The cost of living in South Africa is more expensive than in 70% of countries in Africa.
  • The cost of living in South Africa is cheaper than in 63% of countries in the world.

If the inflation rate goes up any higher, the chance of living a ‘normal life’ is very slim, unless you fall into the high-paying job category, but even then. It will be a struggle, because people with money are very stingy with it (well, some people).

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Another concerning aspect to the cost of living is how it combines with the stress of the unemployment rate. Especially when looking at graduates or people with absolutely no working experience.

No Jobs for Graduates

Imagine studying for 5 years just to end up struggling as well. People do not understand how much time and energy is drilled into sitting with your books, attending lectures, going through past exam papers, studying to make sure you pass every subject. It’s really tough out here. The reason behind studying is so that you can build a better life for yourself, because the reality is that earning a degree alone is not good enough.

In Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech on the 24th of April he promised to create more jobs for those in need. The main purpose of this is to reduce poverty and open up jobs for graduates. The Department of Labor has opened up plenty of jobs. The problem here is that most of these jobs require a degree along with experience. These jobs should have been more directed at fresh graduates because, as a graduate myself, we struggled to get on our feet.  How do they expect students to already have prerequisite experience? Remember, students are equipped with knowledge and by graduating they have proved themselves to be worthy of that knowledge. The government’s idea of job creation was thoughtful indeed, but it was not accurate enough. They need to do more.

On the other hand, some graduates are struggling to find a job because they are overqualified. This scares companies because they know you then need to be paid according to your worth. That’s not our fault though. They need to cater for all.


educated but unemployed
Credits: Camera Digitals

Covid19’s Influence

The experience of losing one’s job during the covid was a harsh intake. Research shows  that the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown caused 114 million people to lose their jobs over 2020. It was unexpected that so many people were forced to change their lifestyles.

Overall, the impact of the simulated COVID 19 pandemic was very severe on both the production and demand sides of the economy. The decline in GDP growth (10%) is mainly due to a significant slowdown in economic activity and widespread disruption of international and domestic supply chains. Lower GDP growth and higher unemployment will inevitably lead to higher unemployment and poverty. The analysis showed a modest increase in poverty by 2.5 percentage points. In addition, women, especially those who are head of the household, experienced it more severely. It was especially tough on those individuals that already lived in rural areas.

Food parcels were given out to those in need by the Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) food parcels. Although on the 21st of April 2020, the government announced that the DSD food parcel process has been replaced by the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) Social Relief of Distress (SRD) Grant. SASSA is a separate agency from Western Cape DSD. The R350 SASSA grant has helped many individuals but obviously R350 is not enough to sustain, a whole household.

It has been a tough two years since the pandemic started but things are slowly starting to pick up now. Although there are others still suffering because some damage can’t be undone.

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Credits: Al Jazeera English

We Forget To ‘live’

We are so focused on paying bills, taking the kids to school, making food and basically doing everything we need to do on a daily basis. Especially how much all that costs to do.

South Africa has some of the most beautiful places, such as the Kruger National Park, Drakenburg’s Mountain range, Cape Of Good hope, Knysa, Tshukudu Game Reserve and The Waterfront In Cape Town. The cost of living here or visiting these places is ridiculous. We need to keep in mind that South Africans love ‘nice things’, but keeping up with the lifestyle is tough. Imagine just living there with no money – it’s pure torture.

Therefore, nowadays we are just surviving instead of ‘living’ because the cost of living has risen significantly. We live in a modern world where we are open to trying new things, therefore we constantly want to explore.

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The Gap between the Have’s And the Have Not’s

In other words, rich vs poor. The reality is that we can not blame people for having money. Everyone deserves to live a good life. On top of that, some people’s wealth may have been built from scratch so they genuinely deserve it. We have many successful people in SA.

A businessman and billionaire Nicky Oppenheimer is known to be the third richest man in Africa. Oppenheimer was formerly the chairman of De Beers diamond mining company and of its subsidiary, the Diamond Trading Company, and former deputy chairman of Anglo American.  Educated at Harrow School and Christ Church, Oxford. He read Philosophy, Politics and Economics, earning an Oxford MA. Oppenheimer is one out of many. Having money does not define you, but it does portray a certain type of image. Like gold and other precious metals, money is worth because, for most people, it represents something valuable. Therefore, Nicky can afford to stay in South Africa or anywhere he prefers because he has the necessary funds to back up his lifestyle.

On the other hand, some of us are not as fortunate. It could be based on your own life choices you have made or perhaps just the vicious cycle of poverty. People who do not have money are considered to be more humble because they understand the hardships in life, not those that others do not, but it’s more crucial to the less fortunate. Not having enough will always push you in the direction of working harder. It might be an irritating and lengthy process, but it’s okay not to ‘have it all’. Make due with what you have, until you can get where you want.

A visulatization of unemployment troubles South Africans face in their country.
Credits: thumbs.dreamstime.com

The Problem With Finding a Job In SA

Not only does unemployment create poverty, but it also keeps you from moving forward in life. You feel stuck. It creates an unpleasant atmosphere in one’s life. This is not a positive image to create for South Africans because we have so much potential in us but not enough resources and opportunities to help us get there. It is one of our greatest downfalls – the lack of job opportunities. This results in people moving overseas because they feel that there is nothing here for them. They go to places such as the UK where job opportunities are falling at your feet.

When it comes to SA, it’s all about who you know. Nepotism is another reason why some people find jobs so easily. This is a massive problem in South Africa because favouritism in the workplace has gained many people jobs, unfairly. Although others consider it to be the only way to get employed.

There are many factors that can cause unemployment. One being – voluntarily leaving the workforce. Resigning at one’s workplace should have a back up plan unless the problem is due to corruption in ethics or perhaps even personal. When making this decision, you need to consider the consequences such as food, fuel and other necessities. Especially if you have kids. Additionally, unemployment can be caused by retrenchment, poor education or training, moving to a new town or simply just studying the right profession in the wrong country.

Unemployment issue
Credits: Investopedia

The Solution

Let’s forget about all the political and government expectations that we have regarding the problem of unemployment. We have no control over those decisions unless we are in positions where our opinions actually mean something. We can only hope that they are smart enough to think accordingly. Instead we should help each other out as individuals. This is an ongoing problem that can’t be fixed but we can find better ways to address it.

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Encouraging Entrepreneurship

The most realistic solution would be to encourage entrepreneurship. If you know you live in a community where your people are struggling financially and you have the necessary capital to start a business – go for it. Entrepreneurship offers the opportunity of job creation for others. Therefore, you are literally saving someone else from the struggle.

Opening up your own hairdresser, for example, would be beneficial to so many women and even men with the necessary skills. A hairdresser will need a washer, hairstylists, a receptionist, a cleaner, a nail technician, a manager, and then there’s the owner as well (you). You will be able to show off your creativity because people will approach you with numerous hairstyles.  Additionally, this will give you the opportunity to grow as a person and promote your skills. You will be in the position to hire individuals. Providing employment for others is one of the most realistic ways we can actually help the unemployed community.

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