Unemployment is rocketing
by Lawrence Ntuli and Ashley Fataar
The South African economy, as it slowed down, shed jobs and thereby increased unemployment amongst the youth. According to the stats SA, 26 percent of people are jobless. But this rises to 35% when “discouraged” workers who have given up looking for work because of lack of job opportunities are included.
Furthermore, the breakdown reflects unemployment levels along both racial and gender lines. Of those aged 15 to 34 who are not employed or training or studying, 49.1% areblack females, 38.6% are black males. For white males it is 1.1%. The total unemployment rate for those aged 15 to 34 years is 38.4%.
This rising unemployment is going to get worse, because job losses are imminent in several sectors of the economy. The steel industry is near collapse as a result of oversupply of steel globally, and dumping from other producers across the globe, as well as a slowdown in demands, both domestically and internationally. Already the Evraz Highveld Steel in
Witbank has closed shop, leaving more than 1 700 people jobless. Moreover, the continuous decline in commodity prices from key markets like China are propelling job cutsin the mining sector, for example Kumba Iron Ore has closed one of its mines, with some 1160 workers losing their jobs.
Effects of Unemployment
Unemployment has an effect on the poor and the young. When parents become unemployed or a household sees a reduction in income, a child’s way of life changes. They can no longer afford necessary social activities or basics. Some children turn to bullying others.
Other children take their own lives. From 1998 to 2013, the number of children aged 10 to 14 taking their own lives doubled. Overall, on average, nearly 9 people every week commit suicide – 592 a year. Older people feel useless at not being able to find a job and blame themselves or get blamed by others and end up taking their lives.
It also has other effects. Children and women are become targets in the home by older men. In 2013, on average 51 children under 18 were raped daily with all sexual offences rising by 34% in 2015. In 2015 and 2016 areas that had never experienced gang terror in working class neighbourhoods are now seeing gang gun-fights.
A collective effect of unemployment also sees a reduction in the membership of trade unions.
Smaller numbers impacts on the ability of trade unions and work-place employees to fight back. In many cases bosses will tell workers that they must either accept peanut wages and unsafe working conditions or join the unemployed. In order to safeguard their jobs many workers may accept these conditions whilst being encouraged to do so by trade union officials. These officials would prefer that they have a membership that can pay at least some membership dues that can sustain the trade union and their own trade union jobs.
The rich in society cope with unemployment by buying private security and other similar measures.
The rich getting richer
Clearly, this rising unemployment discredits free-market ideologues who claimed that that if the rich have excess capital, it will find its way to the poor through job creation. Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism, describes how this is supposed to create an “elevator effect,” in which the elevator “picks up one group of passengers and takes them to the top, where they create wealth that allows the elevator to go back down and pick more people up.”
In reality this elevator only picks up few and never returned to pick up the majority. This is explained by the increasing wealth of the rich. The number of ultra-rich individuals in
South Africa – those with net assets of about R475-million) or more – rose 18% from 526 in 2007 to 620 in 2015. These 620 South Africans collectively are worth about R294 billion.
Instead of jettisoning this outmoded neo-liberalism, the capitalist ANC government is focus on deepening it. This is evident in the endless enforcement of “austerity” policies.
Instead of blaming the capitalists, the mainstream economists and political party such as DA blame the working class for this rising unemployment. They cite the rigid labor market, unskilled workforce and demand for a living wages as adding the costs of creating jobs. Consequently, they proposed wage cuts through increasing the size of precarious workforce, as well as the retraining unemployment workers through EPWP and youth wage subsidy programs, so that skilled positions which are already out there could be occupied.
The capitalists used shortage of skills to duck responsibility for the joblessness they are responsible for. It’s hypocritical, for the capitalists to bemoan the shortage of skilled labor while they lay off workers (including skilled ones) and pay less to those they retain. It’s a false argument and an ideological hoax to say that we have the jobs but not the skills.
Unemployment is high, not because workers lack the right education or skills, but because the capitalists have not seen demand for their goods and services pick up enough to need to significantly ramp up hiring. Capitalists also refuse to invest in colleges and universities to train workers and to provide funds to train them via NSFAS. Only 1% of matrics graduate from university and 4% from other tertiary institutions.
Economist John Keynes stated the obvious truth that forced unemployment exists. He showed that one cannot separate financial markets from the real economy. It is not regulations or trade unions that lead to economies performing below full employment. It is business cycles, which are an inherent part of capitalist economies, that cause upswings and downswings that affect employment levels in economies. (In other words the chase for profits causes unemployment). Adequate regulations in capitalism can reduce but not prevent unemployment in capitalist economies. Local (and international) capitalists have the money to invest. From leaks and revelations we know that bosses have trillions stashed away in bank accounts outside the country. Platinum mine companies,companies like MTN and companies owned by Khulubuse Zuma have been exposed as sending money abroad or engaging in transfer pricing to export profits. So it is not a question of not having sufficient money to invest.
Alternative to unemployment
Bosses do not make investments for charitable reasons. They do so in order to make profits. The AIDS pandemic that swept the world is because pharmaceutical bosses refused to invest in medical research in the 1980s and 1990s to find a cure. Similarly bosses refuse to invest in climate-friendly green energy industries because they want to make a profit from the investments. They would rather see the planet burn than lose their money in bad economical investments.
A real alternative in creating jobs should not be about profit, there is plenty of work available to fix up the poor state of affairs that the country finds itself. There is work needed to build socially necessary things such as hospitals, schools, cultural and child care centers, sturdy bridges, cheap and clean transportation, and the like.
There are millions of jobs that can be created to halt the effects of global warming.