Job losses hit informal sector hardest

4 May 2011

The unemployment rate increased to 25% between the fourth quarter of 2010 and first quarter in 2011, Statistics South Africa reported on Tuesday.

"The unemployment rate increased by one percentage point between Q4: 2010 (24%) and Q1: 2011 (25%)," Stats SA said in its labour force survey for the first quarter of 2011.

The Pretoria-based agency said the number of unemployed people increased by 227 000 between the fourth quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011.

Overall, the number of employed people was about 13.1-million in the fourth quarter 2010, and declined by about 14 000 in first quarter 2011.

Stats SA said traditionally there was a decline in employment in the first quarter, but this year the decline was much lower than the previous two years: "The decline of 14 000 in this quarter is substantially very low compared to the decline observed in quarter 1 of 2009 and 2010, which was 208 000 and 174 000 respectively," it said.

There was an increase of 3.4% (or 486 000) in the number of persons not economically active. Of these, 353 000 were discouraged work-seekers.

During this same period, the number of discouraged work-seekers increased by 73 000.

Formal sector gained jobs

The formal sector gained 56 000 jobs and the informal sector lost 46 000 jobs in this quarter.

Most of the jobs lost during the quarter were in the transport industry, which accounted for 34 000 job losses. Some 25 000 jobs were lost in construction and 24 000 in agriculture.

Job gains were made in finance, with 37 000 new jobs, manufacturing, 20 000, and mining, 15 000.

Between the fourth quarter of 2010 and the latest quarter, most provinces experiences job losses, though Gauteng gained 46 000 jobs, the Western Cape added 12 000 jobs, while Mpumalanga remained unchanged.

"The biggest job losses were recorded in Limpopo, where 22 000 jobs were lost, followed by North West with 18 000 job losses and Northern Cape with 17 000 job loses.

"However the biggest impact is in the Northern Cape, where they shed 6.1% of their employment," the agency said.

Year-on-year increase in jobs

When comparing year-on-year, there was an overall increase of 42 000 jobs. The biggest gain was in community and social services - 133 000. This was followed by trade, with 80 000 new jobs, and manufacturing, 48 000.

In a year-on-year comparison, transport experienced the heaviest job losses, at 70 000, followed by agriculture, 55 000, and finance, 50 000.

In comparing year-on-year, KwaZulu-Natal lost the highest number of jobs at 59 000. The Western Cape was also hard-hit with 53 000 job losses.

The Eastern Cape gained 58 000 jobs and Gauteng grew by 55 000 jobs.

The unemployment rate increased for all population groups between the fourth quarter of 2010 and first quarter of 2011. The highest increase was recorded among Indians (3.8 percentage points), followed by coloureds (1.3 percentage points).

Year-on-year comparisons show the unemployment rate increased among Indians and coloured, but remained almost the same among other population groups.


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People make their way to work up Strand Street in Cape Town (Photo: Rodger Bosch,


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