Although unemployment improved during the second quarter of 2015, overall figures paint a gloomy picture. Statistics SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the second quarter of 2015 show that South Africa’s working-age population was 36-million people, 15,7-million employed, 5,2-million unemployed and 15,1-million “not economically active”.

According to the report the number of employed persons increased by 198 000, while unemployment declined by 305 000, on a quarterly basis.

The unemployment rate decreased by 1,4 percentage points to 25% between the first and second quarters of 2015. The absorption rate increased from 43,2% in the first quarter to 43,5% in the second quarter of 2015, while the labour force participation rate declined to 58,1% from 58,6% over the same period.

The formal sector accounted for the largest share of employment at 69,2% while agriculture accounted for the lowest share (5,6%). Employment growth was largely supported by a rise of 177 000 jobs in the informal sector, on a quarterly basis. Employment in the formal sector of the economy increased by 39 000.

Large quarterly gains were observed in the “community and social services” (98 000), “construction” (79 000) and “trade” (73 000) industries. Job losses were recorded in the ‘”finance”, “manufacturing” and “agriculture” industries (31 000, 23 000 and 22 000 respectively).

Compared to the same period last year, employment increased by 563 000 in the second quarter of 2015. The largest annual increases were observed in the “construction” (219 000), “agriculture” (200 000) and “finance” (153 000) industries. The “trade” and “transport” industries recorded decreases of 60 000 and 25 000 respectively.

Around 16% of the “not economically active” population was accounted for by discouraged work-seekers, while more than 80% were due to other reasons (such as student, home-maker and so on). The results for the second quarter of 2015 reflect an increase in the not economically active population and a decrease in the economically active population.

The expanded unemployment rate, which relaxes the requirement for job-seekers to be classified as unemployed, decreased by 1,2 percentage points to 34,9% in the second quarter of 2015.

David Maynier, Shadow Minister of Finance, believes that these figures indicate a full-blown jobs crisis in South Africa.

“The number of people who are unemployed increased by 321 000 from 4,9-million to 5,2-million in the first six months of 2015,” he states. “What this means is that 321 000 people, who wanted a job, could not find a job – defined merely as ‘work for at least one hour’ – in the first six months of 2015.

“These figures exclude the 2,4-million ‘discouraged job seekers’, who wanted a job but have given up looking for a job, in 2015.

“That 5,2-million people cannot find a job is staggering, especially if we consider that, for every person who loses their job, about four people depend on them,” Maynier states.

“The fact that 5,2-million people don’t have a job cannot be explained by external factors alone, and has much to do with government’s disastrous economic policy, which is killing investment, economic growth and jobs in South Africa.

“What is worse is that the unemployment rate may increase given that companies in the mining, metals and construction sectors, are planning massive job cuts in 2015,” he adds.