South Africa’s unemployment rate rises amid power crisis

By Kopano Gumbi

Social grant recipients stand in a queue outside a post office, as joblessness takes its toll in Meadowlands, a suburb of Soweto, South Africa, February 24, 2022. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

PRETORIA, May 16 (Reuters) – South Africa’s unemployment rate rose in the first quarter after declining for four consecutive quarters last year, data showed on Tuesday, as the country reeled from record power cuts.

Unemployment rose to 32.9% in the first three months of 2023 from 32.7% in the final quarter of last year, Statistics South Africa said.

State power utility Eskom has implemented the worst power outages on record due to its inability to produce enough megawatts to meet demand, leaving South Africans without electricity for up to 10 hours a day.

However, Statistician General Risenga Maluleke said further analysis needed to be done on whether consistent power cuts were impacting employment.

“When you look at areas like mining and manufacturing, they have lost employment, but it needs a further analysis,” he told a media briefing.

The power crisis is having a debilitating impact on households and businesses alike, and is expected to put pressure on the employment status of many as some firms struggle to remain in operation.

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