South Africa - Unemployment

South Africa: Unemployment

Mnemonic LBU.IZAF
Unit #, NSA
Adjustments Not Seasonally Adjusted
Quarterly 1 %
Data 2019 Q1 6,200,785
2018 Q4 6,139,265

Series Information

Source Statistics South Africa (Statistics SA)
Release Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS)
Frequency Quarterly
Start Date 3/31/2000
End Date 3/31/2019

South Africa: Labor

Reference Last Previous Units Frequency
Agriculture Employment 2019 Q1 837,198 849,302 #, NSA Quarterly
Labor Force 2019 Q1 22,492,221 22,667,963 #, NSA Quarterly
Labor Force Employment 2019 Q1 16,291,436 16,528,698 #, NSA Quarterly
Unemployment 2019 Q1 6,200,785 6,139,265 #, NSA Quarterly
Unemployment Rate 2019 Q1 27.6 27.1 %, NSA Quarterly
Total Employment 2018 Q4 10,149,939 10,064,950 #, NSA Quarterly
Wage & Salaries 2018 Q4 725,175,143,582 685,241,353,736 ZAR, NSA Quarterly

Release Information

South Africa's Quarterly Labor Force Survey (QLFS) includes labor force characteristics (working age population, unemployment rate, etc.) and employment by industry, with subnational detail.

Definitions Quoted from Statistics South Africa (citation):

Age refers to the number of completed years and refers to a person’s age at their last birthday.

Assignment planning is a systematic approach to distributing the workload of QLFS field-staff. Its application through the use of the RTMS, allows management to track and monitor publicity and data collection as well as to provide rapid feedback to field-staff. A unique identifier – the assignment number - is pre-printed on all listing booklets, publicity forms and questionnaires that belong to the specific workload.

Blocking is the process used in urban formal and some tribal areas that ensures the entire PSU is listed. The procedure requires that roads and streets are used to create the boundaries of blocks. These blocks are then listed sequentially, ensuring that corner houses/structures are not erroneously omitted or duplicated.

Commission: An amount that is usually paid to persons such as sales men/women who sell goods such as Tupperware, Avon products, or services such as insurance. The amount paid as a commission is usually linked to the quantity of the good or service sold.

Current job is the job in which a person is engaged during the survey reference week.

Discouraged work-seeker is a person who was not employed during the reference period, wanted to work, was available to work/start a business but did not take active steps to find work during the last four weeks, provided that the main reason given for not seeking work was any of the following: no jobs available in the area; unable to find work requiring his/her skills; lost hope of finding any kind of work.

A disability grant is one type of social grant which is money paid regularly by the Government to people who are disabled.

Economic activities are those that contribute to the production of goods and services in the country. There are two types of economic activities as follows: (1) Market production activities (work done for others and usually associated with pay or profit) and (2) Non-market production activities (work done for the benefit of the household e.g. subsistence farming)

Employee: A person who works for a public sector or private sector employer and receives remuneration in wages, salary, commission, tips, piece-rates or pay in kind.

Employer: (employing one or more employees): a person who operates his/her own economic enterprise or engages independently in a profession or trade, and hires one or more employees.

Employment to population ratio (labor absorption rate) is the proportion of the working age population that is employed.

Helping without pay in a household business is working without pay in an economic enterprise operated by a person living in the same household.

Informal Employment: This indicator is intended to identify persons who are in precarious employment situations. It includes all persons in the informal sector. Employees in the formal sector and persons employed in private households who are NOT entitled to basic benefits such as pensions or medical aid and who do not have a written contract of employment.

Industry refers to the activities of the business/establishment/factory i.e. the goods and services produced by the business/establishment/factory.

The labor force comprises all persons who are employed plus all persons who are unemployed.

Labor absorption rate/employment to population ratio is the proportion of the working age population that is employed.

Labor force participation rate is the proportion of the working age population that is either employed or unemployed.

The labor market comprises all persons aged 15 – 64 years who are employed, unemployed and not economically active (inactive).

Long-term unemployment: Persons in long-term unemployment are those individuals among the unemployed who were without work and trying to find a job or start a business for one year or more.

New-entrants into unemployment are identified as persons who were unemployed during the reference period that had never worked before and were currently looking for work.

Not economically active: Persons aged 15-64 years who are neither employed nor unemployed in the reference week.

Occupation refers to the type of activities/work undertaken by persons working in a business/establishment/factory etc.

Own-account worker (not employing any employees): a person who operates his/her own economic enterprise or engages independently in a profession or trade, and hires no employees.

Paid domestic work includes activities such as cleaning, cooking, gardening, for a PRIVATE household for a cash payment and does NOT include normal housework undertaken by household members.

A Primary Sampling Unit (PSU) is an enumeration area (EA) or a number of EAs of the same type when the original (first selected) EA was found to have between 25 and 99 households. These EAs are usually adjacent to each other but in a few instances they are not.

Re-entrants into unemployment: Re-entrants into unemployment are unemployed persons who worked before who were currently looking for work whose main activity before looking for work was any of the following: managing a home; going to school; other reason i.e. they were not working.

Rotation group: At any point in time the sample is divided into four sub-samples. Each of these is identified by the calendar quarter that it first entered the QLFS sample.

Rotation of PSUs: When the dwelling units within a sampled PSU have all been used, the PSU is removed from the Master Sample and is replaced with a new PSU from the sampling frame.

Salary: The amount an employer pays an employee for work done. It is a fixed income for services, which is usually paid on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis, unlike a wage, which is generally paid on an hourly basis. The salary of an employee is usually specified in an employment contract.

A self-employed person operates his/her own economic enterprise or engages independently in a profession or trade, and hires no employees.

Unemployed persons are those (aged 15–64 years) who were not employed in the reference week, actively looked for work or tried to start a business in the four weeks preceding the survey interview, were available for work i.e. would have been able to start work or a business in the reference week. 

Unemployed job losers: Job losers are unemployed persons who were working when they became unemployed and had lost their job; they were laid off; the business in which they had previously worked had been sold or had closed down.

Unemployed job leavers are those among the unemployed who were working when they became unemployed and had stopped working at their last job for any of the following reasons: Caring for own children/relatives; Pregnancy; Other family/community responsibilities; Going to school; Changed residence; Retired; or Other reasons.

Unemployment rate is the proportion of the labor force that is unemployed.

Wage the amount of money paid for work done. When expressed with respect to time (usually per hour), it is called the wage rate. It is often the main monetary item upon which the worker and the employer focus when negotiating an employment contract. It is usually the only payment for unskilled labor.

Work is any activity carried out by the respondent during the reference week for pay, profit or for household gain (where household gain includes persons helping unpaid in a household business).

The working-age population comprises all persons aged 15 – 64 years.

With the release of 2015Q1 data, Statistics South Africa began reporting estimates based on a new master sample (designed in 2013 using 2011 census data). Concept coverage is otherwise identical. However, the source has not revised history, resulting in a break in the method from 2015Q1.

For more information on the sample redesign, please refer to the source.