Johannesburg - Job losses could exceed the one million mark for 2009 by the fourth quarter of the year, trade union Solidarity said on Thursday.
This followed the release of Statistics SA's quarterly Labour Force Survey which showed that the official jobless rate had increased from 23.6% to 24.5% in the third quarter of 2009.
"More than 770 000 employees in South Africa have lost their jobs in the past 12 months, since the start of the economic downswing in the third quarter of 2008," the trade union said in a statement.
Solidarity spokesperson Jaco Kleynhans said if one looked at the broader definition of unemployment, which included discouraged job seekers, unemployment had increased by 3.5 percentage points since the third quarter of 2008.
"Unemployment, in the broad sense of the word, was calculated at 27.6% in the third quarter of last year, at 29.7% in the second quarter of 2009, and at 31.1% in the third quarter," he said.
The worst job loss levels since the start of the economic downswing were recorded in the past quarter and there was still concern that the coming months would continue to paint a bleak job loss scenario, Kleynhans said.
"According to the survey, about 267 000 net jobs were lost in the period between the first and second quarter of 2009 while about 484 000 net jobs were lost in the following quarter."
He said although there were signs of economic revival, many retrenchment processes still needed to be finalised and would therefore only be reflected in the statistics of the coming months.
"Solidarity now fears that job losses for 2009 will pass the one million mark by the next quarter," Kleynhans said.
The survey showed that the manufacturing and retail sectors were particularly hard hit in the third quarter.
"Nearly 150 000 job losses were recorded in the manufacturing sector in the third quarter, while 194 000 job losses were recorded in the past 12 months.
"In addition, 324 000 job losses were recorded in the retail sector in the past 12 months, of which 110,000 were recorded in the third quarter alone," Solidarity said.