16/02/2010 Brush Mokoena father of two collets plastics from dust bins around Phefeni and takes them to Daveland recycling center to make some money for his family, Soweto JHB. (020) Photo: Leon Nicholas

Employment in South Africa’s formal, non-farm sector nudged up 0.1 percent in the third quarter, with a drop in mining jobs offset by additions to the retail and financial sectors, a survey by Statistics SA showed yesterday.

South Africa faces a chronic unemployment problem, with about a quarter of the labour force without jobs for the past 10 years.

Stats SA said 10 000 people were added to formal industries in the third quarter of this year, bringing the total number of workers to 8.44 million. On a year-on-year basis the increase in employment amounted to 1 percent in the third quarter.

Manufacturing, which contributes 15 percent to gross domestic product (GDP), added no jobs in the quarter while the mining and quarrying industry, which was hit by violent labour strikes for three months from August, shed 15 000 jobs.

The mining sector dragged GDP growth down to 1.2 percent from 3.4 percent in the second quarter and analysts estimate weak growth and job losses will be even more pronounced in the final three months of the year.

High unemployment is a hot-button issue, and the topic will feature at the ANC’s elective conference, which begins late this week, to decide who will lead the party and the country from 2014.

Annabel Bishop, the chief economist at the Investec Group, said next year would likely get under way with inflation rising significantly and a greater number of individuals finding themselves over indebted as the government’s user-pay principle causes an ongoing sharp rise in the cost of living. The Quarterly Employment Statistics (QES) survey reflected a quarterly rise of 2.8 percent in average monthly earnings paid to employees in the formal non-agricultural sector between May (an estimated R13 578) and August (an estimated R13 960).

The September QES showed an annual increase of 8 percent in average monthly earnings paid to employees in the formal non-agricultural sector between August last year and August this year. Additional reporting by Reuters