Fix the numbers – Pali Lehohla

Unemployment stats are a point of contention. Loane Sharp and Pali Lehohla debate the issue.

Towards the end of lastyear, Stats SAdelivered a narrativeof the South Africa I know, and elaborated on where South Africans live, work and play.

Early thisyear, the narrative focused on thenames of areas under traditional authorities, which are home to 16?million South Africans.

It further delivered My Ward My Councillor data, which put the spotlight on how integrated development plans can benefit from Census 2011 and its predecessors.

By end of March, a further potpourri of Census 2011 results will be made available.

Not only was it a first in South Africa that the census results were delivered in an accessible and easy-to-understand manner, but indeed it was the first in the world.

With regards to labour market information, Stats SA introduced a programme of re-engineering the Labour Force Survey in 2005 and introduced the Quarterly Labour Force Survey in 2008.

The latter has yielded robust estimates that are comparable to other economic series, providing information on both levels and patterns of labour market dynamics across time and space.

A narrative on employment in South Africa shows that employment reached its peak in the fourth quarter of 2008 when the number was 14?million.

But in a globally connected world, South Africa was affected by the economic vicissitudes that remain with the world today and as a result entered a recession in the first quarter of 2009 as growth contracted by 6.1%.

Employment was also affected by the decline in levels of economic output.

Albeit with a lag, employment levels declined and reached the lowest level in the third quarter of 2010 where it was 12.9?million, thus showing losses of a million jobs from a peak of 14?million in 2008.

As 2012 came to a close, the fourth-quarter labour market experienced an un-employment level that was 0.6 percentage points lower than in the third quarter.

Unemployment in the fourth quarter was 24.9%. There was a net loss of 68?000 in employment.

The sectors contributing to job losses were private households at 48?000, and trade (41?000) and transport industries (18?000).

Formal sector employment declined by 52?000, while the informal sector remained virtually unchanged, albeit increased by 8?000 quarter on quarter.

Compared with the fourth quarter of 2011, however, formal sector employment remained virtually unchanged while the informal sector grew by 71?000 jobs.

Approximately 4.5?million persons were looking for work in the fourth quarter of lastyear, and 3.1?million (or 68.0%) of these were looking for work for more than a year.

Furthermore, 61.3% of the jobseekers did not have a matric certificate.

The unemployment rate remained highest (50.9%) among the 15- to 24-year-olds.

Approximately 3.3?million (31.6%) of the 10.4?million people in the age group 15 to 24 years are not in employment, education or training.

The unemployment rate for women has remained above that of men and has remained high among blacks, youth and the less educated.

Next week, Stats SA will deliver newdata on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the Producer Price Index (PPI).

The CPI has been rebased and the PPI re-engineered.

The fourth-quarter gross domestic product of lastyear will also be released next week.

»?Lehohla is South Africa’s statistician-general

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