Picture: THE TIMES
Picture: THE TIMES

The unemployment rate in SA surged to 27.6% in the first quarter of 2019, with the economy bleeding 237,000 jobs during the period, statistician-general Risenga Maluleke announced on Tuesday. 

This was an increase of 0.5 percentage points compared to the 27.1% recorded in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to Stats SA’s quarterly labour force survey.

Maluleke attributed the increase to a decline of 237,000 in the number of people in employment and to an increase of 62,000 in the number of people who were unemployed between the fourth quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019.

The working age group population increased by 149,000 in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the last quarter of 2018, he said.

The decline in employment was driven by the construction sector which shed 142,000 jobs, finance 94,000, community and social services 50,000, and private households 31,000. The mining sector, one of the pillars of the SA economy, shed 20,000 jobs and agriculture 12,000.

Employment gains were recorded in the transport industry with 59,000 jobs, trade 25,000, utilities 16,000 and manufacturing 14,000.