SA's unemployment figure down 1.3 percent

Monday, March 2, 2009

Pretoria - The fourth quarter of 2008 witnessed an uptake in job creation resulting in a decline of 1.3 percent in unemployment in the country, Statistics South Africa reported, Monday.

Stats SA's Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the fourth quarter of 2008 highlighted that the construction, community and social services sectors of the economy were the biggest contributors to employment in the reported quarter.

"Employment increased by 1.4 percent and unemployment declined by 6 percent. The combined effect was a decline of 1.3 percentage points in the unemployment rate.

"Since the increase in employment was less than the decline in unemployment, the economically active portion of the working-age population declined resulting in a lower labour force participation rate.

"Construction, community and social services were the biggest contributors to the employment gain, however, only the change observed in construction was statistically significant," Stats SA reported.

Although increases were also observed in other industries such as manufacturing and private households, the increases were not statistically significant.

The formal sector of the economy accounted for more than half of the new jobs that were created excluding agriculture which contributed 98 000, but once again the number of jobs created in the formal sector is not statistically significant, Stats SA said.

While unemployment declined by 249 000 jobs or 6 percent, there was a 97 000 increase in the number of discouraged work seekers representing a growth rate of 9.1 percent.

Stats SA said the QLFS collects data on the labour market activities of individuals aged 15 years and above who live in South Africa.

Under international guidelines, the report only covers labour market activities of persons between the ages 15 to 64 years.

Data showed that that there has been an increase in employment for both men and women in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter of 2008, with 1.6 percent more men entering the job market and 1.1 percent increase in women.

"At the same time the decrease in the number of unemployed males (8.5 percent) was higher compared to females (3.7 percent).

"Among the economically inactive population, there was an increase in the number of discouraged work seekers for both men and women, however, the percentage change was higher among men compared to women," the report read.

The Western Cape was South Africa's leader in terms of increase in employment with 66 000, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 48 000 and the Eastern Cape with 43 000.

In the formal sector, construction increased by 65 000 jobs, followed by the community and social services with 48 000 jobs.

The trade and utilities sector in South Africa registered employment decreases of 17 000 and 15 000 in the fourth quarter of 2008, respectively.

The number of unemployed South Africans declined in the fourth quarter of 2008 to 3.9 million from 4.1 million in the third quarter. This, Stats SA said, indicates a drop of 249 000 in the unemployment figure.