48 000 jobs lost so far this year

Trade in­dus­try shed most

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Ka­belo Khu­malo

SOUTH Africa con­tin­ued to bleed jobs with the first quar­ter em­ploy­ment data re­leased by Statis­tics SA (Stats SA) fail­ing to ig­nite the ail­ing econ­omy.

It said that the coun­try slashed 48 000 jobs in the first quar­ter as gross earn­ings also de­clined by R19.3 bil­lion dur­ing the pe­riod.

The agency said the trade in­dus­try shed the most jobs with 32 000 losses, fol­lowed by the busi­ness ser­vice with 23 000 less em­ploy­ees and com­mu­nity ser­vice also cut­ting 8 000 peo­ple out of em­ploy­ment.

It said the man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try also lost 4 000 jobs while trans­port shed 1 000.

Stats SA said the losses are at­trib­uted to the end of con­tracts for work­ers who were em­ployed dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son.

It said the only no­table dif­fer­ence was the con­struc­tion in­dus­try which added 12 000 em­ploy­ees or an in­crease of 2 per­cent, while min­ing also took in 8 000 peo­ple – an 1.8 per­cent in­crease com­pared to the last quar­ter of 2016.

In­vestec econ­o­mist Kamilla Ka­plan said labour mar­ket prospects re­mained par­tic­u­larly weak after the coun­try en­tered into a tech­ni­cal re­ces­sion and busi­ness con­fi­dence tanked to lev­els last seen in the great global-led re­ces­sion of 2008.

“De­pressed busi­ness con­fi­dence re­flects ex­pec­ta­tions of sup­pressed fu­ture eco­nomic growth which there­fore in­di­cates that the private busi­ness sec­tor will not add jobs or boost in­vest­ment at the present time. In­deed, re­cent sur­vey ev­i­dence drawn from the re­tail and man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor sur­veys for the third quar­ter of 2017 sig­nals fur­ther ex­pected de­clines in the num­ber of in­di­vid­u­als em­ployed,” Ka­plan said.

Early this month, Stats SA re­vealed that the un­em­ploy­ment rate in South Africa in­creased to 27.7 per­cent in the first quar­ter of this year from 26.5 per­cent in the pre­vi­ous pe­riod – the high­est job­less rate since the first quar­ter of 2004 as un­em­ploy­ment rose faster than em­ploy­ment.

Macroe­co­nomic statis­tics web­site Trad­ing Eco­nomics said un­em­ploy­ment in South Africa av­er­aged 25.41 per­cent from 2000 un­til this year, reach­ing an all-time high of 31.2 per­cent in the first quar­ter of 2003 and a record low of 21.5 per­cent in the fourth quar­ter of 2008.

The loss of jobs in the first quar­ter of this year also hit the to­tal gross earn­ings paid to em­ploy­ees after they went down by R19bn in the first three months of this year, a de­crease of 3.2 per­cent com­pared to the pre­vi­ous quar­ter. How­ever, this was still R33bn higher com­pared to the same pe­riod last year.

To­tal earn­ings paid to em­ploy­ees amounted to R588bn in March this year, down from R607bn in De­cem­ber last year.

The de­creases in gross earn­ings were led by the man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try with em­ploy­ees los­ing out on R7.1bn in earn­ings; trade in­dus­try em­ploy­ees lost out on R6bn, while com­mu­nity ser­vices lost R4.5bn, closely fol­lowed by the con­struc­tion in­dus­try with R4.4bn.

The em­ploy­ees in the trans­port in­dus­try lost out on R3.2bn and the elec­tric­ity in­dus­try with R1.2bn. In­dus­tries that saw a quar­ter-to-quar­ter in­crease in gross earn­ings was the fi­nance and busi­ness ser­vices in­dus­try with R6.8bn, an in­crease of 4.5 per­cent and min­ing in­dus­try with R5 mil­lion, a mar­ginal in­crease of 0.02 per­cent.

There was a quar­ter-to-quar­ter in­crease of 0.8 per­cent in aver­age earn­ings paid to em­ploy­ees in the for­mal non-agri­cul­tural sec­tor, up from R18 536 in Novem­ber last year to R18 687 in Fe­bru­ary this year.

On a yearly ba­sis, the aver­age monthly earn­ings paid to em­ploy­ees jumped by 8.3 per­cent from R17 262 last year to R18 687 in Fe­bru­ary this year.

Ian Cruick­shanks, the chief econ­o­mist at the South African In­sti­tute of Race Re­la­tions, said that said that un­em­ploy­ment would con­tinue as eco­nomic struc­tural re­forms that were needed to cre­ate jobs were ig­nored or de­layed.

PHOTO: MATTHEWS BALOYI

A long queue waits out­side the Johannesburg Road Agency head­quar­ters, where peo­ple came to ap­ply for a post that had been ad­ver­tised at the in­sti­tu­tion. South Africa’s youth un­em­ploy­ment rates are now con­sid­ered to be chronic.

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