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CAPE TOWN - South Africa’s unemployment in the second quarter remained steady at a 14-year high of 27.7% with 113 000 formal jobs lost.

Data from Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) yesterday revealed that only 80 000 jobs were created in the informal sector during the period, pushing unemployment static quarter-on-quarter up to 1.1% compared to the similar period last year.

StatsSA said employment in construction, community and social services as well as mining contracted year-on-year with minimal growth only recorded in finance and other business services, utilities and trade.

The agency said the largest employment gains were recorded in the trade sector, which added 39 000 more people, followed by manufacturing with 37 000 and community and social services with 23 000 jobs.

It said jobs in agriculture, which had seen growth in the past, decreased by 40 000 while private households shed 8 000 people during the period.

Maarten Ackerman, a chief economist at Citadel, said the data showed that the future remained bleak.

Job cuts

“If one considers all the potential job cuts announced recently by big mining companies on the back of the Mining Charter and required restructurings as well as retailers such as Pick n Pay - once again, this is a reflection that the economy and companies are taking the strain,” Ackerman said.

Last week, SA Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago told legislators that recession in South Africa could deepen further if policy certainty is not forthcoming in mining and agriculture, the only two sectors to have shown growth so far this year.

StatsSA said expanded definition of unemployment, which includes people who have stopped looking for work, rose slightly to 36.6% in the second quarter, from 36.4% in the previous period.

It said the largest losses were recorded in Gauteng and Eastern Cape, while Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal employment gained 32 000 and 29 000 jobs respectively.

The agency said the Western Cape and North West were the only provinces that recorded year-on-year declines in the unemployment rate.

Elize Kruger, an analyst at NKC African Economics, said lacklustre economic activity currently characterising the economy was unable to sustain the job market.

Kruger said that heightened political and policy uncertainties had also impacted negatively on the overall economy of South Africa.