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Stats SA Labour Force Survey reveals workplace disparities between men and women continue to exist in the job market

Written by Staff Writer

August 22, 2023

By Sinazo Mkoko

According to the Stats SA Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the second quarter of 2023, South Africa’s labour force participation rate increased to 59.6% in the second quarter of 2023 from 58.6% recorded in the second quarter of 2022, an increase of 1% year-on-year.

The report, however, noted that the labour market in South Africa remains more favourable to men than women, revealing large gender gaps in employment.

Stats SA stated that the labour force participation rate for women stood at 54.3% compared with 64.9% for men, a gap of 10.6 percentage points.

“Only 54.3% of women of working age in South Africa participate in the labour force either as employed or looking for work. The female labour force participation rate has seen an increase over 10 years by 4%, from 50.3% in Q2:2013 to 54.3% in Q2:2023. However, women remain less likely to participate in the labour force compared to men,” the report said.

 “In Q2:2023, the labour force participation rate was highest among South Africans aged 35 to 44 years (78.8%); young people aged 15–24 had the lowest labour force participation rate at 27.2%. The labour force participation rate for women was largest in the age group 35–44 at 72.7%; this, however, is 12 percentage points less than that of men in the same age group. Across all age groups, women are less likely to be in the labour force compared to men.”

Stats SA added that the largest labour force participation gap was in the age group 45–54 at 15.5%, and female labour force participation showed an increase in all age groups between Q2:2022 and Q2:2023.

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“South Africa continues to grapple with persistently high levels of unemployment, with the burden of joblessness being carried by women and young people. The official unemployment rate in Q2:2023 was 32.6%, a decline of 0.3% from the 32.9% recorded in Q1:2023. Unemployment numbers for women remain higher than the national average, with 35.7% of South African women in the labour force currently without work and actively looking for work.”

The report also showed that while the unemployment rate for men continues to fall by 2,6% annually and by 0,7% quarterly, it is more severe for women. With an unemployment rate of 39.8% in Q2 2023—greater than the national average and more than other population groups—black women fare even worse.

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