Jobs crisis worsens

2009-12-16 00:00

EMPLOYMENT data released yesterday showed available jobs in the country’s formal sector declined at a faster pace in the third quarter, with at least 79 000 more people left jobless during the period.

Non-farm employment figures dropped 3,9% to 8,1 million in the third quarter, compared to the same period in 2008. The annual decline in the second quarter was 2,3%.

“One of the biggest costs of the crisis was job losses,” said Elna Moolman, economist at Barnard Jacob Mellet. “But there’s a bit of stabilisation in these numbers; we’re expecting some improvement in the early part of next year and job-creation towards the end of 2010.”

Mining, construction and manufacturing — three of SA’s key sectors — shed the most jobs in the year to end-September. The mining sector lost almost nine percent of its labour force during that period, while construction and manufacturing both suffered losses of about eight percent.

In terms of quarterly drops, construction was the sector that retrenched the most workers between June and September (2,5%).

Stats SA said this was due to the completion of many construction projects and a job drought following the boom of the past three years.

The consumer goods industry — such as motor retail, leisure and household goods — also reported a sizeable drop (two percent quarter on quarter) after South Africans cut discretionary spending in an effort to reduce debt.

On the flip side, government is still hiring and this was evident in the 3,3% annual increase in civil servants, teachers and health practitioners.

The only private industry showing a small indication of recovery was logistics and communications. Jobs here fell 3,3% annually in the third quarter but increased by a marginal 0,3% quarter on quarter.

However, Moolman said it was difficult to determine whether the job-creation in this sector was due to seasonal factors, or a turning point in the economy.

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