New formal sector jobs report shows steep falls in trade, construction

(iStock)
(iStock)

A new jobs report by Stats SA has again underscored the economic shock of Covid-19 on SA's economy, with employment in the already suffering construction sector falling by over 10%. 

Stats SA published its Quarterly Employment Statistics survey for the second quarter of the year on Thursday. The results include findings on employment in the non-agricultural formal sector.

According to Stats SA, total employment in SA decreased by 648 000 or -6.4% quarter-on-quarter, from 10 196 000 in March 2020 to 9 548 000 in June 2020.

The biggest decreases were seen in:

  • Trade - 192 000 job losses (a fall of -8.4%),
  • Business services - 147 000 (-6.3%),
  • Community services - 103 000 job losses (-3.7%),
  • Manufacturing  - 85 000 job losses (-7.1%),
  • Construction  - 74 000 job losses (-13,2%),
  • Transport - 38 000 job losses (-7.6%)

In percentage terms, the largest decline was in the construction sector, which has been suffering for years from a lack of new developments. 

The QES bulletin is separate from the better-known Quarterly Labour Force Survey, which is also published by Stats SA. While the labour force survey gives SA's official unemployment rate, the QES gives a snapshot of total non-agricultural formal sector employment. QES collects information on employing businesses registered for VAT with annual turnover greater than R300 000.

Fall in wages 

According to the report, basic salaries or wages paid to employees decreased by R65.8 billion (-9.9%) from R666.8 billion in March 2020 to R601 billion in June 2020. 

The report underscores the pain inflicted on SA's economy due to the pandemic and the lockdown. According to the QLFS published in late September, South Africa shed 2.2 million jobs during the second quarter. Quarter-on-quarter GDP contracted by a record 16.4% while business confidence and manufacturing production plunged.

President Cyril Ramaphosa will on Thursday afternoon address a joint sitting of both houses of Parliament about his economic plan to revive SA's economy. 

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