WP04/2013

Youth unemployment in South Africa since 2000 revisited

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP04/2013

Author(s): Derek Yu

JEL Classification: J00, J21

Keywords: Youths, employment, unemployment, discouraged workseekers, wage subsidy, labour market trends South Africa

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Abstract:

One of the most pressing socio-economic problems of the South African economy is high youth unemployment. Recent studies only briefly examined how the youths fared since the transition by comparing the 1995 October Household Survey (OHS) with a Labour Force Survey (LFS), and hardly investigated whether the discouraged workseekers are different from the unemployed. Moreover, a new labour market status derivation methodology has been adopted since the inception of Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) in 2008. Although the unemployed in QLFSs are derived similarly as in OHSs and LFSs, the discouraged workseekers are distinguished very differently. This paper applies the QLFS methodology with minor revisions on all LFSs to derive comparable youth labour market trends since 2000, before re-examining the extent of youth unemployment. The characteristics of discouraged workseekers and narrow unemployed are then compared, before investigating whether different policies are needed to boost youth employment in each group.