South Africa: Jobs stats spark ‘cautious optimism’ – President Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa said the latest jobs figures – which show a decline in the unemployment rate for the second quarter of 2021 – prompt cautious optimism that the economy will recover.

The president was addressing the nation through his weekly bulletin on Monday morning.

The statistics show a drop in unemployment from 34.5% in the first quarter of 2022 to 33.9%.

“Over the past few years, South Africans have had to contend with slow growth and rising unemployment. This has been compounded by a devastating pandemic, an attempted insurgency in July last year and, more early this year severe flooding in parts of KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and North West.

“In the midst of all of this, the energy crisis has escalated, causing damage to the economy and hardship to households and businesses. Yet even amid these formidable challenges, our society and our economy have proven to be resilient, and there is every indication that our economy is showing encouraging signs of recovery,” President Ramaphosa said.

The statistics also indicate some 648,000 job creations during the same period and, according to the president, while this is to be welcomed, “there is still a lot to be done” to further curb unemployment.

The president added that the job gains show that the government’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan – which focuses on mass public employment, economic reform and infrastructure development – is making progress in job creation. .

“With infrastructure development and investment being one of the top priorities of our recovery plan, the growth in construction jobs is particularly encouraging. The February budget called for a 30% increase in spending in public infrastructure over the next three years to reach R812 billion, compared to R627 billion over the past three years.

“The Construction Industry Development Board recently noted that there has been an increase in infrastructure projects carried out by state-owned companies like Transnet and Eskom, but also in metros and through the Ministry of Public Works and Infrastructure,” he said.

The President stressed that the structural reform processes undertaken by the government are “difficult but necessary” and that these reforms are yielding results by helping the economy to develop.

He called on government, trade unions, business and civil society to forge consensus on these reforms and “the trade-offs that are necessary to achieve our goals”.

“As our economy takes time to recover and our reform agenda is implemented, we will continue to pursue a series of complementary interventions to support job creation. Alongside measures that support private sector growth , we will develop public employment and provide social protection for the most vulnerable.

“The growth in jobs, coupled with other promising signs of recovery, should encourage us to pursue reforms and implement our economic reconstruction and recovery plan to unlock investment and growth. It should encourage all social partners to work more closely and with greater urgency and purpose to accelerate growth and create more jobs,” said President Ramaphosa.