Unemployment rises while govt creates jobs in Brazil

For the past year, as thousands more join the ranks of the unemployed, the South African government has been exporting poultry jobs to Brazil.

South Africa’s awful unemployment stats are among the worst in the world.

Official unemployment in the first quarter of 2023 was 32.9%, up from 32.7% the previous quarter. That increased the number of jobless to 7.9 million desperate people, many with families to support.

The expanded definition of unemployment, which includes those who have given up looking for work, is 42.4%. Youth unemployment, measuring job-seekers between 14 and 24 years old, rose to 62.1% in the first quarter from 61% at the end of last year.

Those figures were released in May. This week StatsSA released its quarterly employment statistics survey, a narrower measure looking at jobs in the non-agricultural formal sector for the first quarter of 2023. The results, again, were worrying: in only part of the economy, 97 000 jobs were lost in the year to March 2023.

“Jobs bloodbath in the first quarter as formal employment falls” reported the financial daily Business Day.

Meanwhile, since August last year, the South African government has created jobs in Brazil by encouraging that country to dump chicken portions in South Africa in increasing volumes. It refused to implement anti-dumping duties which would have promoted South African jobs, resulting in a six-fold increase in imports of Brazilian bone-in chicken portions, such as leg quarters.

The duties were recommended after an investigation by South Africa’s trade regulator, the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC). The regulator found that Brazil was dumping chicken in South Africa at unfairly low prices, harming the local industry and costing local jobs.

South Africa’s trade and industry minister, Ebrahim Patel, agreed with the findings and recommendations. But he postponed implementation of those anti-dumping duties for 12 months, until August this year.

The results of that failure to act are evident in import statistics and in the country’s rising jobless rate.

Brazilian poultry workers, on the other hand, will be celebrating.