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Youth unemployment rate in South Africa 2022

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What is the current rate of youth unemployment according to the statistical data revealed in the Stats SA Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the fourth quarter of 2021?


Unemployment remains one of the biggest problems setting the South African economy back. The rates of unemployment continue to rise, while the economic landscape does not seem to be improving as much as it has been hoped to. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are also contributing factors to slow recovery.

When it comes to unemployment in South Africa, the youth is always of the most concern. The youth is regarded as custodians of the economic future of South Africa, however, they are still faced with higher rates of unemployment annually.

Youth unemployment in South Africa

The high rate of unemployment in South Africa has left many once hopeful unemployed individuals with little to no hope of securing access into the labour force. The youth is most impacted by the lack of jobs and entry in the job market, with the rate of unemployment being the most significant amongst young people.

Both 2020 and 2021 saw the rate of unemployment amongst the youth at a high of over 65 percent, and the figures do not seem to be improving but, instead, remain unchanged. So what is the rate of youth unemployment in 2022?

What is the South African youth unemployment rate in 2022?

The rate of youth unemployment in South Africa for 2022, remains at 66.5 percent and presents the latest figure of unemployment amongst the youth for the beginning of 2022. Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) recently released its Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the fourth quarter of 2021, with all figures related to the unemployment of the South African youth.

Young people in South Africa fall under the age groups of 15-34. Statistics South Africa has come up with the ‘Not in employment, education or training’ (NEET) labour market category, with unemployment rates for youth aged 15-24 and 15-34. 32.8 percent of youth between 15-24 under the NEET umbrella were not employed in Q4:2021.

The unemployed youth under NEET falling in the age group of 15-34 increased to 44.7 percent in Q4:2021, from 41.8 percent in Q4:2020. More than four out of 10 young males and females were unemployed.

The official definition of unemployment

According to the official definition of unemployed persons aged 15-64 years, these are individuals who were not employed in the reference week and were actively looking for work or tried to develop their own business in the four weeks prior to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey.

They are people who were available to work, but had not actively looked for work in the four weeks prior, but had a job or business to start at a certain future time and were available at a date prior to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey being taken and the numbers being taken.

What is the expanded definition of unemployment?

According to the expanded definition of unemployment for people aged 15-64 years old, they are those who were not employed anywhere in the reference week, but were actually available to start working somewhere.

In this case, they may not have been looking for work either, because they were feeling discouraged and defeated from looking for work and being unsuccessful at it, or were not looking for work for other reasons. Many people will lose hope and give up searching for work altogether due to unsuccessfulness.

What is the proportion of unemployment to education figures?

In the Stats SA quarterly Labour Force Survey release, unemployment was also highlighted according to the rates by education level for the fourth quarter of 2021.

Out of 7.9 million unemployed people in Q4:2021, 51.6 percent of them did not have a matric certificate. 38.6 percent had a matric qualification, and graduates stood at 2.4 percent only, while people with other forms of tertiary level education were at 6.9 percent. 0.5 percent of unemployed people fell under “Other levels of education.” The low number of graduates indicates the harsh unemployment reality.

Education level Unemployment rate
Less than matric 51.6%
Matric 38.6%
Graduates 2.4%
Other tertiary 6.9%
Other 0.5%

Final thoughts

South Africa is experiencing a dire unemployment crisis and has been for quite some time. The rates of unemployment have seemingly only gotten worse, and were recently further exacerbated by the economic crisis caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, which saw the economy take a plunge.

Unemployment affects the whole population, but the youth rate of unemployment remains the biggest concern of the crisis. Currently, the rate of youth unemployment is at 66.5 percent, a result confirmed by Statistics South Africa in its recent Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the fourth quarter of 2021, released in March 2022.


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