One third without jobs

29 March 2019 | Economics

More than 364 000 people in Namibia were unemployed last year, most of them young people between 20 and 24 years old.

The latest labour force survey, released by the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) yesterday, shows that the unemployment rate in 2018 stood at 33.4%.

This is slightly lower than the 34% contained in the same survey in 2016. In 2014 the unemployment rate stood at 27.9%.

According to the NSA the slight decrease in the unemployment rate last year, despite the continuing recession, could be ascribed to retrenched workers who managed to find new jobs or became self-employed.

But the actual numbers tell a less optimistic story: 364 411 people were jobless last year, which was 15 028 more than in 2016.

According to the latest data, 34.3% of the female workforce is unemployed. The unemployment rate for men is 32.5%.

In urban areas there were 107 691 unemployed women last year, compared to 82 816 in the rural areas.

A total of 100 552 men in urban areas were unemployed, against 73 352 in rural areas.

Kavango East and Kunene were the regions with the highest unemployment rates, at 48.2% en 41.6% respectively. Omusati, at 24%, had the lowest rate. In the Khomas Region the unemployment rate stood at 31.5% last year.


The youth was the demographic group hardest hit by unemployment. A total of 265 770 people between 15 and 24 years old were without work last year – 19 508 more than in 2016.

Among them were 140 564 women, including 79 992 in urban areas. The youth unemployment rate for last year stood at 30.3%.

A total number of 305 981 young people were neither employed, nor students. Most of them – 47.5% - were in the Omaheke Region. The figure for the Khomas Region was 34.4%.

About 37.5% of unemployed young people had only primary-school education, compared to 33.3% who had high-school education.

Among young people with university degrees or diplomas, 18.3% were unemployed.


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