South Africa - Unemployment

South Africa: Unemployment

Mnemonic LBU.IZAF
Unit #, NSA
Adjustments Not Seasonally Adjusted
Quarterly 3.37 %
Data 2022 Q3 7,725,130
2022 Q2 7,994,291

Series Information

Source Statistics South Africa (Statistics SA)
Release Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS)
Frequency Quarterly
Start Date 3/31/2000
End Date 9/30/2022

South Africa: Labor

Reference Last Previous Units Frequency
Agriculture Employment 2022 Q3 872,606 873,820 #, NSA Quarterly
Labor Force 2022 Q3 23,490,534 23,556,149 #, NSA Quarterly
Labor Force Employment 2022 Q3 15,765,403 15,561,858 #, NSA Quarterly
Total Employment 2022 Q3 9,982,959 9,975,225 #, NSA Quarterly
Unemployment 2022 Q3 7,725,130 7,994,291 #, NSA Quarterly
Unemployment Rate 2022 Q3 32.9 33.9 %, NSA Quarterly
Wage & Salaries 2022 Q3 800,519,106,685 789,432,138,662 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.


  • Measurements:
    • Number of persons (#)
    • Percent (%)
  • Adjustment: Not seasonally adjusted (NSA)
  • Native frequency: Quarterly
  • Start date: As early as 1998Q1, but most series start at 2008Q1
  • Geo coverage: Country


  • 2001 census - 2008 to 2013


Quoted from Statistics South Africa (citation):

The number of completed years and refers to a person’s age at their last birthday.
Assignment planning
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.
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.
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
The job in which a person is engaged during the survey reference week.
Discouraged work-seeker
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.
disability grant
One type of social grant which is money paid regularly by the Government to people who are disabled.
Economic activities
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)
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.
The activities of the business/establishment/factory i.e. the goods and services produced by the business/establishment/factory.
Labor force
Comprises all persons who are employed plus all persons who are unemployed.
Labor absorption rate/employment to population ratio
The proportion of the working age population that is employed.
Labor force participation rate
The proportion of the working age population that is either employed or unemployed.
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
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.
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.
Primary Sampling Unit (PSU)
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.
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.
Self-employed person
Operates his/her own economic enterprise or engages independently in a profession or trade, and hires no employees.
The persons (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
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
The proportion of the labor force that is unemployed.
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.
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).
Working-age population
Comprises all persons aged 15 – 64 years.

Moody's Analytics supplments

For the labor force status quartet, we construct seasonally adjusted supplements.

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.

Further reading

At the source: