SA’s total employment improves slightly in fourth quarter
JOHANNESBURG - UNEMPLOYMENT in the country eased slightly in the fourth quarter as 76 000 jobs were created following the further lifting lockdown restrictions during the period.
Data from Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) yesterday showed that total employment increased 0.8 percent quarter-on-quarter to 9.64 million from 9.56 million in the third quarter.
The Quarterly Employment Statistics survey attributed the movement to employment increases in the trade, community services and business services industries.
However, most new jobs were part-time due to seasonal factors, supported by the increase in demand in the run- up to and during the festive season.
Part-time jobs within the trade sector grew by 54 000 in the form of the total number of 87 000 part-time jobs increases.
StatsSA said the electricity industry reported no quarterly change.
However, there were decreases in the construction, manufacturing, transport and mining industries during the same period.
Investec economist Lara Hodes said the further loosening of Covid19 linked restrictions led to a moderate increase in formal non-farm employment.
Hodes, however, said it also evidences the level of financial uncertainty still present, with many employers hesitant to hire full-time employees until economic recovery gains momentum.
“While plunges in activity, as experienced in the second quarter of last year are unlikely going forward, further waves of infections accompanied by tighter restrictions is anticipated, until the vaccine is widely dispersed, thus hindering economic activity,” Hodes said.
The Covid-19 lockdown restrictions have wreaked untold damage to economic activity, increasing the rate of joblessness to an unprecedented 32.5 percent in the fourth quarter.
Industries such as tourism and hospitality were heavily impacted by the restrictions on travel, curfew, gatherings and alcohol sales ban.
South Africa’s economic data continues to show that businesses were not resilient to the lockdown restrictions, and are highly sensitive to rising levels of lockdowns.
The South African Reserve Bank yesterday said that the country recorded foreign direct investment inflows of R51.1 billion for 2020, down from inflows of R74bn in 2019.
Portfolio investments recorded inflows of R24.1bn in the OctoberDecember quarter compared with outflows of R39.5bn the quarter before.
Despite a moderate improvement in the fourth quarter of 2020, the economy’s production is still well below the first quarter of last year as restrictions are still in place.
The South African Liquor Brandowners Association (Salba) warned that the banning of all sales of alcohol had no rationale when the number of people allowed in a gathering was being increased.
Salba chairperson Sibani Mngadi said they wanted the government to be transparent about what informed this decision.
“We would like to understand what the rationale/evidence-based reasoning is behind an 11-day ban of alcohol sales while at the same time increasing the maximum number of people allowed in a gathering,” Mngadi said.