South Africa: Employment Figures, by year
YearNumber of people,
in thousands
202318,882
202217,861
202117,219
202017,645
201918,205
201818,148
201718,098
201617,495
201517,346
201416,605
201316,448
  • Region: South Africa
  • Time period: 2013 to 2023
  • Published: Mar 2024

Data Analysis and Insights

Updated: Apr 2, 2024 | Published by: Statistico

Significant Recovery in Employment Numbers in 2023

South Africa experienced a significant recovery in total employment in 2023, with the number of employed people reaching 18,882 thousand. This marks the highest employment level over the analyzed period from 2013 to 2023, indicating a robust rebound from the employment dip experienced in previous years.

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Employment in 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic had a noticeable impact on South Africa's employment, with a decrease to 17,645 thousand employed individuals in 2020. This represents a downturn from 2019, which had 18,205 thousand employed individuals, illustrating the immediate effects of the pandemic on the job market.

Continuous Employment Growth Since 2016

Analyzing the data from 2016 onwards reveals a consistent upward trend in employment, growing from 17,495 thousand in 2016 to 18,882 thousand in 2023. This indicates a positive and steady growth in job opportunities over the eight-year period, underscoring a resilient economy.

Year-on-Year Employment Increase from 2022 to 2023

The year-on-year increase in employment from 2022 (17,861 thousand) to 2023 (18,882 thousand) was particularly noteworthy, showing an addition of 1,021 thousand employed individuals. This substantial growth signifies a strong recovery and expansion of the job market.

The Lowest Employment Level Recorded in 2013

The data set begins with 2013 recording the lowest employment level of the period, with 16,448 thousand employed individuals. This sets a baseline for understanding the growth trajectory and economic developments over the subsequent years.

Comparison of Pre and Post-Pandemic Employment Levels

Comparing the pre-pandemic year of 2019 with the latest data from 2023 shows an increase in employment by 677 thousand individuals (from 18,205 thousand to 18,882 thousand). This comparison not only highlights the recovery post-pandemic but also indicates growth beyond pre-pandemic levels.

Overall Employment Growth Over a Decade

From 2013 to 2023, South Africa saw an overall increase in employment of 2,434 thousand individuals. This growth, calculated from the lowest recorded employment level in 2013 to the highest in 2023, demonstrates the country's economic resilience and ability to expand its job market over a decade.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the overall employment growth in South Africa?

From 2013 to 2023, South Africa saw an overall increase in employment of 2,434 thousand individuals.

Terms and Definitions

Employment refers to the state or condition of having work, especially paid work. In statistics, the term 'employment' generally refers to individuals of working age who during a specified brief period, for example a week or a day, were in the following categories: paid employment (whether at work or with a job but not at work) ; self-employment (whether at work or with a job but not at work).

Unemployment refers to the state of being without work, while actively searching and being available for work. It is a key indicator of labor market performance, measured as a percentage by dividing the number of unemployed persons by the total active population in the same age bracket.

Labor force, also known as workforce, represents all individuals who are functioning or available to function in a society’s economy, whether by working for wages or salaries, or running a business or professional practice. It typically includes those who are either employed or unemployed and actively looking for work.

Working age population is the aggregation of people that are of working age, generally considered to be between the ages of 15 to 64. They represent the total pool of people that could potentially be part of the labor force.

Informal employment refers to employment without legal and social protection, and workers’ benefits. This can include those self-employed in small unregistered enterprises, as well as wage workers not protected by labor legislation.

Underemployment refers to the situation of those who are working less than full-time or regular hours, or are employed in jobs that do not utilize their skills and abilities, despite wishing to work more hours or in more suitable employment.
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