SA loses 67 000 jobs in first quarter

SA loses 67 000 jobs in first quarter

Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) painted a rather gloomy picture of the economy of South Africa in the first quarter of 2024, which saw 67 000 jobs lost in the formal non-agricultural sector.

In its quarterly employment statistics survey, Stats SA showed that while some primary industries suffered some job losses, other industries including transport and construction gained some jobs.

According to the survey, employment decreased by 67 000 (-0.6%), bringing the total level of employment to 10.7 million. The trend is however on a downward spiral with a total job loss of 74 000 from March 2023 to March 2024; representing a decrease from the 10 731 000 reported in December 2023 to 10 664 000 in March 2024.

According to Stats SA, the trade and community services industries saw the highest number of job losses, totalling 57 000 and 18 000 respectively, followed by the business services industry, which lost 4 000 jobs, and the mining industry, which experienced a loss of 3 000 jobs. The electricity sector reported no change during the same period.

The report reveals that not all is gloomy, certain industries experienced growth in employment. This includes the manufacturing industry which saw an uptick of 12 000 jobs, trailed by the transport industry with 2 000 jobs, and the construction industry with 1 000 jobs.

However, the job gains in some of the industries proved to be but small gains. The relatively weak economy of the country resulted into more job losses. Full-time employment decreased by 29 000 jobs, falling from 9 513 000 in the fourth quarter of 2023 to 9 484 000 in the first quarter of 2024.

Stats SA says several industries witnessed declines in full-time employment. The trade industry observed a reduction of 35 000 jobs, followed by the community services industry with a loss of 13 000 jobs, and the mining industry with a decrease of 3 000 jobs.

“Conversely, the manufacturing industry reported an increase of 18 000 jobs. Meanwhile, moderate increases were noted in the business services and construction industries, with 3 000 jobs and 1 000 jobs, respectively. Year-on-year, the number of full-time jobs declined by 16 000 in March 2023 compared to March 2024.

Part-time employment decreased by 38 000, reaching a total of 1 180 000 in March 2024 compared to 1 218 000 reported in December 2023. This decrease was mainly driven by declines in trade with 22 000 jobs. Business services, manufacturing, and community services industries reported losses of 7 000, 6 000 and 5 000 jobs, respectively. However, the transport industry experienced an increase in part-time employment, adding 2 000 jobs. Electricity and construction industries remained unchanged for the quarter.” read the report.

Stats SA says total gross earnings paid to employees decreased by 3,5%, totalling R957,9 billion in March 2024 compared to R993 billion in December 2023. This decline was primarily driven by the losses in earnings within trade (R12,3 billion), community services (R10,3 billion), manufacturing (R10 billion), construction (R6,3 billion), transport (R3,4 billion), electricity (R1,1 billion) and mining (R858 million). The only increase in earnings was reported by the business services industry with R9,3 billion.

Basic salaries/wages decreased by 0,8% (R6,7 billion) in March 2024 to reach R848,9 billion, primarily driven by losses in trade, manufacturing, construction, mining, and business services. However, there was an increase in the transport, electricity, and community services industries. Year-on-year basic salaries/wages paid to employees rose by 5% or R40 billion from March 2023 to March 2024.

According to the report, bonus payments decreased by R27,6 billion (-25,3%) to reach R81,4 billion. Losses were reported by all industries except business services, which increased by R9,9 billion. Year-on-year, bonus payments rose by 0,5% or R438 million from March 2023 to March 2024.

Overtime payments decreased by 2,7 % or R779 million to reach R27,6 billion in the first quarter of 2024. Decreases in overtime payments were reported in business services, manufacturing, construction, and transport industries. However, there were increases reported by the electricity, trade, and community services industries.

Year-on-year overtime payments paid to employees increased by R3 billion, marking a rise of 12% from March 2023 to March 2024.

The average monthly earnings (AME) paid to employees saw a 0,1% decline quarter-on-quarter, falling from R26 822 in November 2023 to R26 791 in February 2024. Year-on-year, there was a 4,6% growth in average monthly earnings.

Journalist

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