- According to the latest South African government statistics, unemployment in the country declined from 42,1 to 41,8 percent during the last half year. While unemployment still is very high in Africa's most industrialised country, trade unions welcome the apparent shift in employment trends.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) yesterday expressed its pleasure at a decline in the country's unemployment rate, as reflected in the Labour Force Survey for September last year. The survey, which looked at the duration between March and September 2003, shows that overall unemployment in the country declined from 42,1 percent to 41,8 percent.
Overall employment, the survey indicated, stabilised during the period – rising by about 0,5 percent. These figures for unemployment use the so-called "expanded definition", which categorise, as unemployed, all those who will take a job immediately if offered one but are not actively seeking work. This includes the elderly and other groups that have given up finding employment.
Figures using the "narrow definition" of unemployment show a more substantial decline in the unemployment rate, from 31,5 percent in March to 28,2 percent in September. This definition includes as unemployed only those actively seeking work.
Those who are too discouraged to look for work, but who still want a job, do not count as unemployed workers within the internationally used narrow definition. As a result, the fall in unemployment using this definition mostly reflects a very large reported increase in the economically inactive population, i.e. adults who neither have nor are actively seeking work.
COSATU spokesman Moloto Mothapo yesterday nevertheless welcomed the small increase in South Africa's employment. "Obviously, having healthy adults simple drop out of the workplace altogether is not a sustainable way to deal with the unemployment crisis," state Mr Mothapo. "In any case, COSATU considers the broader definition more accurate in capturing the needs of the population for incomes and work."
- COSATU has welcomed the [ruling ANC party's] determination to place the unemployment question at the top of the national agenda, the federation spokesman added. "We expect the agreements reached at the Growth and Development Summit last year to ensure more positive outcomes in terms of employment in the next few years," he concluded.
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