COSATU welcomes small drop in unemployment

31 July 2012

The Congress of South African Trade Unions welcomes the small drop in the level of unemployment, announced by StatsSA today, 31 July 2012.

The more realistic expanded unemployment rate - which includes discouraged job-seekers who have given up looking for work - declined from 36.6% in the first quarter of 2012 to 36.2% in the second quarter.

The lower ‘official’ rate of unemployment fell in the same period from 25.2% to 24.9%. This represents a drop of just 0.3% and just 56 000 fewer workers without jobs, a drop in the ocean of the total of 4.47 million who remain unemployed.

So it is far too early to be complacent. These figures indicate that unemployment is still way too high and it remains a national crisis. There must be no let-up in the campaign to create jobs, and reduce poverty.

The government must be congratulated for its contribution to the 121 000 new jobs in community and social services‚ which were created between the first and second quarters of the year. This accounts for most of the overall improvement and is very encouraging.

It is extremely worrying however that in the same period, the manufacturing sector lost 44 000 jobs, while the trade sector shed 91 000.

If we are to meet the government targets for creating five million new jobs, the manufacturing industry will be crucial, and for this sector to be still losing jobs must ring the alarm bells. It must spur us on to implement the Industrial Policy Action Plan, the job-creating sections of the New Growth Path and the Infrastructure Development Programme with far greater urgency.

In particular, we have to prioritise the special crisis of unemployment amongst the youth, who constitute 63% of the working population, yet make 72% of the unemployed.

COSATU welcomes the ANC NEC’s decision to abandon the Democratic Alliance’s bogus ‘solution’ of the Youth Wage Subsidy and will look sympathetically at its alternative of a Job-Seekers’ Grant, though we need much more detail of how it will be distributed and to whom.

It is essential that any such scheme should encourage far more young people to study and learn skills, which will equip them to seize job opportunities when the tide turns and government’s strategy to put us on a new developmental growth path starts to take off and create employment.

Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)
Congress of South African Trade Unions

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