27 September 2007
South Africa gained almost 200 000 jobs in the year to March 2007, according to Statistics SA’s latest labour force survey, as the recovery in job creation that started in 2003, and the shift to formal sector employment that began in 2001, both continued.
The survey, released on Wednesday, shows that the number of employed South Africans rose from 12 451 000 in March 2006 to 12 648 000 in March 2007, pushing the percentage of working-age South Africans with jobs up slightly, from 41.7% to 41.9%.
While South Africa’s official unemployment rate remained virtually unchanged at 25.5%, compared with 25.6% in March 2006, this was due to the increase in the number of people in the market for jobs. South Africa’s working age population (15- to 65-year-olds) rose from 29.8-million in March 2006 to almost 30.2-million in March 2007.
The trade industry (including the wholesale and retail sectors) remained South Africa’s biggest employer, accounting for 23.4% of total employment in March 2007, followed by the community and personal services industry (18.3%) and manufacturing (13.9%).
The industries with the biggest employment gains in the year to March 2007 were community and personal services, including domestic, shop and sales workers (127 000 new jobs), finance (126 000 new jobs), and construction (102 000 new jobs).
More formal sector jobs
T-Sec economist Mike Schussler told Business Report that South Africa’s overall employment picture was positive, with Statistics SA’s latest figures showing not only that jobs were increasing, but that workers were moving from the informal to the formal sector and that earnings were up sharply.
According to the labour force survey, formal sector employment – where workers are more likely to have a constant salary and a pension or provident fund – has been rising steadily since 2001.
In the year to March 2007, 364 000 jobs were created in the formal sector (excluding agriculture), while in the informal sector there was a decline of 59 000 jobs.
In March 2007, formal sector jobs accounted for 66.6% of South Africa’s total employment, whereas the informal sector (also excluding agriculture) accounted for 16.9% and domestic work for 7.4% of all jobs.