Unemployment eases in third quarter

30 October 2013

South Africa’s unemployment rate eased to 24.7% in the third quarter, down from 25.6% in the second quarter, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) reported on Tuesday.

“The unemployment rate decreased by 0.9% of a percentage point from 25.6% in quarter two 2013 to 24.7% in quarter three of 2013,” Stats SA said as it released its quarterly labour force survey (QLFS) for the third quarter.

The QLFS is a household-based sample survey which collects data on the labour market activities of individuals aged 15 years and above who live in South Africa.

Stats SA said that quarter-to-quarter employment increased by 308 000 in the third quarter, while the number of those seeking jobs fell by 114 000.

“This resulted in an increase of 194 000 in the labour force,” Stats SA noted, adding that the formal sector and private households contributed positively in the increase in employment.

The growth in employment was driven by growth in the formal sector, where quarter-to-quarter job gains were 314 000, while the informal sector lost 39 000 jobs.

Nedbank economists said the rise in formal sector jobs was encouraging, but did not reflect a sustained increase in job levels.

“Subdued economic growth on the back of still weak, although improving, global conditions and lacklustre domestic output growth points towards job creation remaining generally slow in the next few quarters,” Nedbank said.

Trade, community and finance and other business services in the quarter-to-quarter results were revealed as the largest contributors to the 308 000 net gain in employment, with trade gaining 100 000 jobs and community and social services gaining 96 000 jobs, Stats SA said.

“Compared to a year ago, in quarter three of 2013, employment increased by 2.8% (383 000), and unemployment decreased by 1.2% (58 000).”

According to the survey, the number of discouraged work seekers (people who are willing and are able to work but are not actively looking for employment) fell by 125 000 to 2.24-million during the quarter.

Nedbank’s economists said they expected the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy committee to keep interest rates unchanged.

“These numbers … confirm that demand-driven inflation remains subdued. We therefore expect the Reserve Bank to keep interest rates unchanged well into 2014 as it strikes a balance between high cost-push inflation and modest domestic growth,” Nedbank said.

The central bank will hold its last monetary policy committee meeting for the year from 19 to 21 November.

SAinfo reporter