The results of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the third quarter of 2021 show that the number of employed persons decreased by 660 000 in the third quarter of 2021 to 14,3 million. The number of unemployed persons decreased by 183 000 to 7,6 million compared to the second quarter of 2021.

The number of discouraged work seekers increased by 545 000 (16,4%) and the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement increased by 443 000 (3,3%) between the two quarters resulting in a net increase of 988 000 in the not economically active population.

These changes resulted in the official unemployment rate increasing by 0,5 of a percentage point from 34,4% in the second quarter of 2021 to 34,9% in the third quarter of 2021 – the highest since the start of the QLFS in 2008. The unemployment rate according to the expanded definition of unemployment increased by 2,2 percentage points to 46,6% in quarter 3 2021 compared to quarter 2 2021.

The results indicate that South African labour market is more favourable to men than it is to women. The proportion of men in employment is higher than that of women; more men than women are participating in the labour market as the labour force participation rate of men is higher than that of women; and the unemployment rate among men is lower than among women.

The unemployment rate among women was 37,3% in the third quarter of 2021 compared to 32,9% among men according to the official definition of unemployment. The official unemployment rate among black African women was 41,5% during this period compared to 9,9% among white women, 25,2% among Indian/ Asian women and 29,1 among coloured women.

Employment decreased by 571 000 (5,6%) in the Formal sector, by 65 000 (5,4%) in Private households and by 32 000 (3,8%) in Agriculture in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the second quarter of 2021. Informal sector employment increased by 9 000 (0,3%) in the same period.

All industries experienced job losses between the second and third quarters of 2021 except the Finance industry which gained 138 000 jobs. The largest employment decrease was observed in Trade (309 000), followed by Community and Social Services (210 000).