Decline in formal sector jobs in first quarter 2020

According to the Quarterly employment statistics (QES) survey released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) the formal non-agricultural sector shed 3 000 jobs in the first quarter of 2020. This brings the total number of persons employed in the formal non-agricultural sector in South Africa to 10,2 million. According to the report, formal sector jobs rose by 3 000 in the first quarter, year on year.

Employment Q1_2020 QES data story

The latest report includes employment up to the quarter ending March 2020 and is not indicative of the impact on employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Job losses were reported in the trade industry with 17 000 in the first quarter. Losses were mainly due to decreases in employment in the retail and wholesale trade sub industries by 14 000 and 3 000 employees respectively. Employment in the construction industry decreased by 14 000 jobs.

Job losses were also seen in the manufacturing industry with an annual decrease of 28 000 employees (-2,3%) in March 2020 compared with March 2019 and a quarterly decrease of 2 000 employees (-0,2%) in March 2020 compared with December 2019. This was mainly due to decreases in employment in the wood and products of wood and cork, except furniture, articles of straw and planting materials, paper and paper products, publishing, printing and reproduction of recorded media and transport equipment sub industries.

The community, social and personal services industry reported an annual growth of 54 000 employees (2,0%) in March 2020 and an increase of 17 000 employees (0,6%) between the quarters ending December 2019 and March 2020. These gains were mainly due to increases in employment in provincial departments; local government; national departments; health and social work; and universities and technikons. The business services industry grew by 8 000, mining by 3 000 and the transport industry with 2 000 jobs.

Full-time jobs increased by 18 000 quarter-on-quarter, whilst 37 000 jobs were lost compared to same period last year.

During the March 2020 quarter, part-time jobs declined by 21 000, whilst 40 000 jobs were added year-on-year.

Gross earnings paid for the quarter ended March 2020 decreased by R46,7 billion when compared to the previous quarter. The total amount of gross earnings estimated for the quarter was R730,3 billion. This is down from R777,0 billion in the previous quarter. There was a 4,3% year-on-year increase in earnings in the current quarter compared with March 2019, amounting to R30,0 billion.

Gross earnings for data story

The decrease in earnings was driven by the community services industry, with a decrease of R10,8 billion. This was followed by decreases in the trade industry, down by R8,2 billion, the manufacturing industry, down by R8,2 billion, the business services industry, down by R8,0 billion, the transport industry, down by R5,5 billion, the construction industry, down by R4,5 billion and the electricity industry, down by R1,6 billion. Earnings in the mining and quarrying industry increased by R22 million.

Average monthly earnings were measured at R22 387 in the formal non-agricultural sector of the economy in February 2020. This is a -0,2% decrease when compared to November 2019, and an annual increase of 5,4%.

If you missed the link in the article, download the full report here.