Employment ‘patchy and weak’

2011-02-10 11:01

Employment levels for January 2011 rose 0.9% compared with the same period last year in a “patchy and weak” environment, according the Adcorp Employment Index (AEI) released today.

“The biggest increases were in temporary employment (2.5%) and agency employment (4.8%),” according to national data collated independently of Statistics SA.

There were declines in all sectors, except the government, which rose 8.8% on an annualised basis, according to data released by the recruitment and research company ahead of President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address tonight.

He was expected to provide further details on job creation plans.

The most significant declines were in the construction sector, where employment fell 6.6%.

Moderate job losses occurred in the financial services and wholesale and retail trade sectors, by 3.7% and 3.6% respectively.

“Interestingly, high-skilled workers -- managers and professionals – showed an increase of 5.9%, reflecting the economy’s continued strong need for skills,” Adcorp CEO Richard Pike said.

The company’s figures follow Statistics SA’s finding that the unemployment rate declined 1.3% to 24% between the third and fourth quarters of last year.

Statistician general Pali Lehohla said employment increased 1.2% or 157 000 jobs in the fourth quarter of last year, resulting in 13.1 million employed South Africans.

The number of unemployed last year declined by 259 000 or 5.9%.

This resulted in a drop in the unemployment rate of 1.3 percentage points to 24%, with around 4.21 million South Africans unemployed.

He said the financial sector recorded 33 000 job losses, construction 29 000, agriculture 13 000, transport 24 000 and mining 4 000.

Gains were in the professional, managerial and technician occupations.

From January, the AEI began including the unofficial sector, not recognised by Statistics SA, where Adcorp estimates around 6.19 million people are employed.

It no longer provides a provincial break down.

The unofficial sector includes employment of unregistered foreigners, evasion of income, payroll and other taxes and the “underground economy”.

Pike believes the proposed labour law amendments will result in 1 056 912 job losses.

This was because of costs associated with paying medical aid and pension contributions to formerly temporary employees, income losses at employment agencies, employment equity fines, increasing salaries and extra human resource department costs.

The proposed amendments relate to the Labour Relations Act (1995), the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (1997), the Employment Equity Act (1998), the Immigration Act (2002) and the Employment Services Bill.

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