Johannesburg – The post-World Cup lull in the construction industry claimed another 54 000 jobs, Statistics SA (Stats SA) reported on Tuesday.
According to the Quarterly Labour Force, formal sector employment in the second quarter contracted by 1.4%, representing 129 000 jobs. This contraction was driven by construction, where employment fell by 7.1%, or 54 000 jobs.
SA's unemployment rate increased by 0.1% during the period to 25.3%, following the first quarter when 161 000 people became jobless.
The civil construction industry, which is almost entirely dependent on government projects, has experienced a drop in activity as 2010 FIFA World Cup projects came to an end, while government's expected R846bn infrastructure roll-out has so far failed to materialise.
For instance, the Gautrain project created 90 000 work opportunities, but only 3 000 sustainable workers will be needed over the next 15 years for maintenance and management, according to the Bombela Consortium.
According to Old Mutual Investment Group analyst Rian le Roux, the industry will continue to experience a loss in growth momentum.
"The problem is that when an economy runs into a brick wall as we did last year, the infrastructure projects never come back onto the budget," said Le Roux. "It is important that infrastructure remains the key area for government spending growth... a productive (form of) spending in the public and private sectors."
The civils industry obtains 88% of its work from the government sector.
Paul Theron of Vestact said the latest job losses are a fraction of the labour movements that took place a few months ago. "The greatest job losses took place when the guys who were part of the big uptake during 2005 to 2007 at small work sites were retrenched."
Smaller construction projects have a better chance of being approved than major projects during this year's second quarter, according to Industry Insight, the construction service data base.
However, 161 public sector projects have been postponed since the beginning of last year and the number of projects put out to tender fell by a third in the first quarter compared with the first quarter of last year, said Industry Insight.