Disturbing Job Statistics

The March 2013 Quarterly Employment Statistics have been published and bring the infuriating news that that the number of people employed in the formal non-agricultural sector of the South African economy increased by about 7 000 (+0.1%) from December 2012 (an estimated 8 456 000 employees) to March 2013 (an estimated 8 463 000 employees). Year on year there has been minimal job creation. So what do our experts make of it all?

Expert Comment:

Christo Luus from EcoQuant:

The Quarterly Employment Survey data for the first quarter held no major surprises, with the mining sector accelerating the shedding of jobs which started in mid-2012 and manufacturing continuing the job-shedding which has now lasted for more than five years. The fact that overall non-agriculture formal employment was up 1% (7 000 people) on a year ago and 0.1% on the previous quarter, came about mostly as a result of employment growth by government and parastatals. The outlook for employment growth in the remainder of 2013 remains bleak.

Loane Sharp from Adcorp:

The numbers show the formal sector is in a very weak condition. If you strip out the government sector, which created 32 000 jobs in the quarter, employment overall was very flat or down. The big story is how weak the private sector is. After the 2009 recession, when we lost a million jobs, the formal sector was clawing back – but it seems this was a false dawn. We are now 600 000 jobs short of the peak reached in 2008.

Dawie Roodt from the Efficient Group:

The 1% rate of growth in new jobs in the past year is significantly lower than the rate of increase in remuneration of over 8%. And with productivity also increasing well below the increase in remuneration, fewer and fewer are being paid more and more. Inevitably unemployment will increase! It is also of particular concern that manufacturing reduced its labour uptake – as it’s the one sector that has the most potential for creating more jobs.

Craig Pheiffer from ABSA Investments:

The numbers showed nothing more than the same pedestrian y/y and q/q change and it’s unlikely we’ll make any headway with GDP struggling to keep its head above 2%. The only good news was that we didn’t lose jobs.


We are not creating jobs at a fast enough pace. We cannot just blame government – as business and the unions must also be held to account. A generation of young people faces despair and poverty unless this challenge of job creation can be tacked effectively and speedily.

Tweet of the Day:

jonny geller (@jonnygeller): #jamesjoyce walks into a bar on #bloomsday in Dublin. "Why the long phrase?" says the barman.

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