SA's unemployment rate drops

Bathandwa Mbola

28 March 2008

Statistics South Africa's (Stats SA's) latest Labour Force Survey, conducted in September 2007, finds that the country's unemployment rate decreased to 23% in the third quarter of 2007, down from 25.5% in the previous year - a record low since the inception of the survey in 2001.

"The jobs growth rate adds up to a year-on-year gain of 3.4%, still off the 5.2% year-on-year gross domestic product (GDP) gains in the third quarter and highlighting a continuing jobless growth conundrum," Stats SA said this week.

The data also shows that while the total labour force had dipped slightly to 17.18-million people, from 17.19-million in the third quarter 2006, the total of number of employed South Africans in September last year was approximately 13.2-million, which indicates a net gain of 433 000 jobs

.

Most jobs were seen in the formal sector (610 000), while the working age population - between 15 and 65 - was up to 30.4-million from 30-million in September 2006.

Major contributing industries were private households, which refers mainly to domestic workers, with employment figures up by 137 000 jobs, while personal services added 132 000 jobs.

"The number of domestic workers rose to a record 1.06-million, [or] 8% of the 13.23-million employed South Africans, in a trend that might stem from rapid growth in SA's black middle class," said Stats SA.

The community and social services industry, the country's second-biggest employer after retail trade, accounted for 18.5% of jobs. These include teachers, police and health workers, as well as private workers such as beauticians.

Women empowerment

According to the data, the female unemployment rate dropping to 26.7% in September from 30.7% in the same month the year before, showing that women accounted for most of the net rise in jobs.

Stats SA said the country's economic growth has been a driving force in job creation. The construction sector has been fuelling growth as the government intensifies spending on rail, power and stadiums in preparation for hosting the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

The biggest decline in unemployment was seen in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal province, while the Western Cape showed the lowest improvement.

The survey is based on interviews with 30 000 households and includes people working in the formal and informal economies.

Source: BuaNews

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