Youth unemployment in South Africa: Current SA unemployment rate, types of unemployment, causes, and consequences to the economy

Youth unemployment in South Africa: Current SA unemployment rate, types of unemployment, causes, and consequences to the economy

The lack of jobs is increasingly becoming a significant economic threat with direct implications on the global economy. Statistical findings on the severity of unemployment rates indicate that young people are the most affected in any given population. A case in point is a report recently published by the Department of Statistics South Africa confirming that the problem is at its worst in the recent past, with the youth graduate unemployment rate increasing in the first and second quarters of 2019. What are the causes of youth unemployment in South Africa?

Lack of jobs in South Africa: Current SA rate, causes, consequences to the economy

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has termed the current youth unemployment rate in South Africa a “National Crisis.” The commander in chief issued this deep-founded statement at a commemoration event held in honour of youth activism during the apartheid era. South Africa unemployment rate has left several analysts questioning the country’s long-held reputation as the most advanced African economy.

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Youth unemployment in South Africa in 2019

Even as the president seeks to re-ignite dormant economic streams, it is time we threw a curious eye on the types of unemployment locking arms with our young people. It is also timely to identify stem causes triggering inadequate job opportunities, their economic eventualities, and critical strategic solutions of reversing the problem. What is the youth unemployment rate in South Africa?

Current SA unemployment rate

What is the rate of youth unemployment in South Africa? Youths aged between 15 and 24 years stand at the crossroad of severe South African unemployment rates. The country registered an unemployment rate of 55.2% in the first quarter of 2019 and it even became worse in the second half which stood at 56.4%.

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It is evident that South Africa is experiencing the highest rates of youth unemployment and is likely to worsen if no proper measures are adopted. The country suffers from different types of unemployment, rendering most youths without a source of income.

Leading types of unemployment in SA

Researchers have unveiled that most youths suffer employment scarcity at it is worst under various categories discussed.

i. Structural unemployment

Graduates are the most affected by this type of lack of jobs, considering that most of them are unable to secure jobs for lack of sufficient skills that match the market demand. Technological advancement is one example of a market shift that is rendering most young people jobless for the lack of skills and experience required by employers.

ii. Seasonal unemployment

The seasonal sector of the economy is a significant cause of this type of employment that affects a considerable number of young people. For instance, most retail outlets absorb younger employees during festive seasons on temporary contracts after which they embark on the lack of jobs benches.

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iii. Frictional unemployment

While some youths have trouble landing on random jobs, others become unemployed in the process of switching between workplaces. This form of lacking jobs is also called transitional unemployment. Frictional unemployment results in delayed hiring of new employees and may as well land the youth leaving a workplace jobless for some time.

iv. Natural unemployment

This is perhaps one of the forms of unemployment in South Africa where young people cannot secure careers upon their graduation. It is the most significant contributor to escalating unemployment rates in the country.

Other types of unemployment include:

  1. Cyclical - which is as a result of the contraction business cycle phase.
  2. Long-term - whereby job seekers actively look for work for more than 27 weeks.
  3. Classical/real wage/induced unemployment - whereby wages are higher than the dictation of the laws of supply and demand.
  4. Underemployment, whereby individuals have jobs but are not working to their skill levels or full capacity.
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Causes of unemployment in South Africa

There are countless reasons for unemployment in South Africa that are subjecting youths to terrible economic situations. Among the leading causes of unemployment are:

  • A weak education system that does not satisfy the current career demands
  • Lack of entrepreneurial goodwill making difficulties for young people to engage in productive businesses
  • Mismatch in national labour demand and supply systems
  • 2008/2009 global recession effects that continue to shake the market
  • The active role of trade union federations in governance
  • redundant economic growth discouraging potential investors
  • Legacy of apartheid that still holds down youths from minority groups

What are the consequences of unemployment?

Various causes of graduate unemployment in South Africa trigger severe outcomes on the country’s overall economic progress. The impact of unemployment among youths can over time result in the following:

  • Loss of individual income, self-esteem, and confidence
  • The decline in Gross Domestic Product GDP affecting national progress
  • Loss of governmental revenue obtained through taxation
  • Rising costs of benefits linked to not having work to sustain one's needs
  • More pronounced disparities in the distribution of national income and resources
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Strategies to overcome unemployment in South Africa

What can be done to reduce youth unemployment? South African is now cashing in on different strategies to help in reversing the effects of unemployment on young people. President Ramaphosa is among those who have demonstrated support and commitment to cutting down neck-breaking unemployment rates in the country. Some of the strategies that can minimize lack of jobs among the youth are:

  • Offering fair opportunities to the youths
  • Reassessment of welfare distribution
  • Reconsidering the input of unpaid interns
  • Providing career guidance earlier in life
  • A collaborative effort between institutions and employers
  • Introducing new measures for working experience
  • Promoting entrepreneurial involvements among young people
  • Modernizing apprenticeships in the current labor market
  • Offering disadvantaged youths with equal opportunities
  • Coming up with a levy scheme to recruit and train youths on skill shortage areas
  • Organizing youth career development programs and seminars to enlighten young people on available opportunities.
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Youth unemployment in South Africa now stands at its highest because of various types of employment and other causes. The country can, however, redeem its tainted image and deteriorated economy by implementing all the proposed strategies.


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