Cape Town - The latest Quarterly Employment Statistics was a “depressing wake-up call” and fingered the government’s failures over the past decade.
This was according to industry, as StatsSA on Tuesday released its first quarter statistics, which showed that the total employment decreased by 21 000 or -0.2% quarter-on-quarter, from 9 991 000 in December 2022, to 9 970 000 in March 2023.
StatsSA found this was largely due to decreases in the trade, business services, transport and construction industries.
Total employment decreased by 97 000 or -1.0% year-on-year between March 2022 and March 2023, while full-time employment decreased by 63 000 or -0.7 % quarter-on-quarter, from 8 881 000 in December 2022 to 8 818 000 in March 2023
Labour expert and lawyer, Michael Bagraim, said the figures painted a grim outlook on the near future, and predicted a greater drop for the next quarter.
“This happens every single quarter and has been repeated for the last 10 years. Obviously the government is doing a lot wrong. We have all the resources and skills and yet the economy is collapsing.
“Unemployment is now the worst in the world and productivity is the second worst in the world. Over and above this, the indicators show that it is going to get a lot worse for the next quarter.
“We have just come out of tourist season, which boosted our figures but not enough. The next quarterly review will show a greater drop. It cannot be business as usual. Small business has to be deregulated and we do need to assess our labour legislation.
“The lost state of the Nation address clearly called for an assessment of the legislation. This assessment has not been done and we are going to need a new government to step in next year and change the slippery slope of employment.
“We had growth in the Western Province in the last quarterly review but the rest of the country showed the hopeless situation,” said Bagraim.
Cosatu parliamentary coordinator, Matthew Parks, said the figures were alarming.
“The latest report from StatsSA is yet another depressing wake-up call for government and the private sector, that we cannot continue as is and somehow expect miracles or things to change for the better.
“These are alarming signs of stagnation for an economy with a total unemployment rate of 42.4% and a meek 0.4% GDP growth rate last quarter.
“Government and business need to treat unemployment as our number one crisis as a nation. Continuing along the path of reckless austerity budget cuts to key public services in the state, allowing municipalities to continue to underspend their infrastructure roll and allowing billions to be lost in the fiscus to wasteful expenditure and corruption cannot be allowed to continue…government needs to double its efforts to support Eskom’s energy action plan to end load shedding.
“We need a more coherent and active intervention plan by the state to secure and rebuild our freight and passenger railway network and modernise our ports,” said Parks.
Spokesperson of trade union, United Association of South Africa, Abigail Moyo, said the unemployment situation needs serious intervention.
“Shedding formal jobs will soon lead to harsher circumstances and an increase in the number of poor. Earlier this month, the Nasi Ispani (Here is a job) campaign offered 8 000 jobs in the Gauteng provincial government commemorating the June 16 uprising in 1976. While this is an admirable initiative, Youth Month should not be the only time when government and other stakeholders take the issue of youth unemployment seriously,” said Moyo.