Cost Of Living Has Dire Impact On The Youth

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South Africa's inflation rate remains at a five-year high of 6.5%, leaving South Africans frustrated with the expensive cost of living. The inflation rate along with the alarming youth unemployment rate makes it even more challenging for South Africa's youth demographic. 

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With the price of petrol and food on the rise and burning holes in the wallets of South Africans, the youth are also dealing with the heavy strain on their finances.

Youth Capital, an advocacy campaign lead by the youth for the youth, conducted research that revealed young people were spending up to R1000 per month on data and transport costs. 

Data prices have been incredibly steep for a few years now, even igniting the #DataMustFall movement in 2017. Public transport systems such as taxis have also seen an increase in fares, while drivers of these taxis are feeling the pinch of the hiked petrol prices. 

Like food and electricity, travelling by taxi and other forms of public transport is a basic necessity for many South Africans.

Although taxis are a mode of transport commonly used in South Africa, they are not always reliable. However, traveling with alternative transport such as Uber can be more expensive than travelling via taxi. 

Earlier this month, some employees who rely on taxis to get to their place of employment chose to resign from their jobs after an increase in taxi fares, saying the amount of money they earn is not enough to keep up with the cost. 

"I don't have a car, so I rely on taxis to move around. Taxi fare in my area increased by R5. From R20 to R25 just to go town and R21 to go to work. So a round trip per day is R92 and with the salary we earn at call centres it was hitting hard, so I had to resign,” said one person. 

For the youth, the unemployment rate is a national crisis at this point, and only seems to be getting worse. 

A recent report by Statistics South Africa shows that in the first quarter of 2022, unemployment among young graduates aged 15-24 declined from 40,3% to 32,6%, while it increased by 6,9 % to 22,4% for those aged 25-34. 

There are not enough available jobs for South Africa's youth; no job results in no money, but even with some kind of income, everything required for survival is expensive and unaffordable during this rising economic climate. 

In the research conducted by Youth Capital, it was found that often times, young people have to "choose between looking for work and putting food on the table." 

Kristal Duncan-Williams, project head of Youth Capital, says that businesses should assist employees that fall under the youth by offering to pay for their taxi fares or buying them a gig of data, if it's a work-from-home job. 

"If you're a business and you're hiring a young person, offer to pay for the taxi fare; if you're going to do an online call, offer to buy them data." 

Among the youth, they do not only have themselves to consider. They are often the breadwinners for families, taking care of parents and siblings; a task made more challenging due to the restrictions of youth unemployment and the high cost of living South Africa finds itself in. 

Duncan-Williams goes on to mention that helping a young person in a small way can have a greater impact, whether that's helping them write a CV or conducting a mock interview in preparation for the real thing. 



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