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THE NATIONAL EMPLOYERS' ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH AFRICA (NEASA) – Latest unemployment figures extremely concerning.

Like all South Africans, the National Employers' Association of South Africa is concerned by the release of the latest unemployment figures that point to the fact that almost 37% of the country's workforce is now without a job. Statistics South Africa said the official unemployment rate in the second quarter rose to 25.6%, from the 25.2% rate recorded in the first three months of the year.

At the same time, NEASA welcomes the fact that Statistics South Africa's recognised the impact of the number of discouraged workers, which totals a further 11.2%, who's given up on looking for work out of sheer humiliation, frustration and discouragement, on the unemployment figures.

'Although the current economic climate must take some blame for increased unemployment, the latest labour force survey again confirms that job creation cannot take place in an environment where there is structural deficiencies in labour market policies,' says Gerhard Papenfus, NEASA CEO.

‘High levels of unemployment, combined with skill shortages, cannot be addressed within an environment where unaffordable minimum wages are prescribed and employers find it difficult to dismiss,’ he says. 

Government’s inability to get all alliance stakeholders on board for concerted efforts around job creation is also adding to the already dire situation. 

'Although these deficiencies are recognised by certain prominent leaders in government, the rift and divisions between the ANC government and its alliance partners act as a deterrent to strong leadership on these issues,' says Papenfus.

NEASA expects more job losses in particularly the agriculture and mining sectors in months to come. According to analysts, the agriculture sector shed just over 25-thousand jobs between April and June. This was mainly due to the new minimum wage that came into effect earlier this year and took its toll on especially small and emerging farmers.

'NEASA is adamant that extremely innovative measures are needed to address inequality and poverty, but a good starting point is the eradication of poverty through higher level of employment,' Papenfus said.

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Sya van der Walt

Media Liaison