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Ashley Lechman | 27 March 2024

Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) said yesterday that formal employment in the country for the fourth quarter of 2023 decreased by 194 000 jobs, or 1.8%, quarter on quarter.

This brought the level of employment to 10.7 million, according to Stats SA’s quarterly employment statistics (QES) survey.

Lara Hodes, an economist at Investec, said Declines were logged in five of the eight industries included in the survey, evincing the fragile state of the economy

The country’s numerous challenges including electricity supply and logistical constraints which were particularly elevated in quarter four 2023 continued to impede optimal growth, she said.

The survey showed that the community services industry saw the highest number of job losses, totalling 214 000, followed by the construction industry, which lost 19 000 jobs, and the business services industry, which experienced a loss of 12 000 jobs.

The mining sector reported a moderate decrease, with 1 000 job losses reported during the same period.

However, the QES further showed that 98 000 jobs were added between December 2022 and December 2023.

Stats SA said that certain industries experienced growth in employment.

“The trade industry saw an uptick of 56 000 jobs, trailed by the transport industry with 2 000 jobs, and the electricity industry with 1 000 jobs. Full-time employment decreased by 5 000 jobs, dropping from 9 498 000 in the third quarter of 2023 to 9 493 000 in the fourth quarter of 2023,” Stats SA said.

Full-time employment sees a decline

The survey further revealed that many industries witnessed declines in full-time employment.

The construction sector observed a reduction of 13 000 jobs, followed by the manufacturing industry with a loss of 12 000 jobs, and the community services industry with a decrease of 11 000 jobs.

Conversely, the trade industry reported an increase of 31 000 jobs.

Meanwhile, moderate increases were noted in the transport and electricity industries, with 3 000 jobs and 1 000 jobs, respectively.

Year-on-year, the number of full-time jobs rose by 12 000 in December 2023 compared with December 2022.

Meanwhile, part-time employment decreased by 189 000, reaching a total of 1 212 000 in December 2023 compared with 1 401 000 reported in September 2023.

Year-on-year part-time employment saw a rise of 86 000 jobs compared with the corresponding quarter of 2023.

Trade union Uasa said yesterday that it was deeply distressed by the decrease in employment.

“Sadly, the recent increase in inflation, ongoing job cuts and retrenchments across various sectors, mainly in the mining sector, will further result in dire financial depression and economic distress for South Africa and its people,” it said.

Uasa urged the government to intervene by providing relief funds to sustain threatened industries, including small business owners, and assist with sustainable job creation that could

“We must absorb a significant portion of the unemployed pool. The reality is that fellow South Africans are suffering. We must protect our industries, which are the backbone of our economy,” Uasa said.


Total gross earnings paid to employees increased by 5.8%, totalling R995.6 billion in December 2023 compared with R941.3bn in September 2023.

This upswing was primarily driven by the growth in earnings within trade (R15.1bn), manufacturing (R12.6bn), construction (R7.3bn), business services (R7.1bn), community services (R5.8bn), transport (R4.7bn), electricity (R1.8bn) and mining (R216 million).

Stats SA went on to report that basic salaries and wages increased by 0.9% (R7.9bn) in December 2023 to reach R857bn, primarily driven by growth in trade, manufacturing, construction, business services, transport, electricity, and mining industries.

However, there was a decline in the community services industry.

Year-on-year basic salaries and wages paid to employees rose by 5.4%, or R43.6bn, from December 2022 to December 2023.

Bonus payments increased by R45bn (69%) to reach R110bn.

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.


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