Cape Town – New jobs in the trade sector - 42 000 - boosted quarterly employment figures to a record 0.5% increase in December, despite the employment losses in the mining sector of 14 000 jobs.
Statistics SA announced its quarterly employment statistics (QES) survey on Wednesday, which collects data from value-added tax (VAT) registered businesses (excluding agriculture).
It said the mining and quarrying industry reported an annual decrease of 29 000 employees (-5.9%) in December 2015 compared with December 2014. There was a quarterly decrease of 14 000 employees (-2.9%) in December 2015 compared with September 2015.
South Africa’s mines are increasingly down-scaling their operations to cut losses stemming from low commodity demand in China, as well as the knock-on effect from prolonged domestic strikes in the gold and platinum sector in 2014.
Overall, Stats SA said employment increased by 43 000 quarter-on-quarter, from 8 949 000 in September 2015 to 8 992 000 in December 2015. This was due to increases in trade (42 000 or 2.3%), business services (16 000 or 0.8%) and community services (13 000 or 0.5%).
There were decreases reported by mining and quarrying (-14 000 or -2.9%), construction (-8 000 or -1.7%), manufacturing (-4 000 or -0.4%), and transport (-2 000 or -0.5%) sectors.
Employment increased by 6 000 or 0.1% year-on-year between December 2014 and December 2015.
Stats SA said there was a quarter-on-quarter increase of 0.7% in average monthly earnings paid to employees from R17 392 in August 2015 to R17 517 in November 2015.
On an annual basis, average monthly earnings paid to employees increased by 6.7% from R16 424 in November 2014 to R17 517 in November 2015.
This follows Stats SA’s unemployment figures last month, which showed that it had declined by a percentage point in the fourth quarter of 2015, to 24.5% of the population.
According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, the working-age population was 36.3 million, of whom 16 million were employed, 5.2 million unemployed and 15.1 million not economically active.
Almost 66% of the unemployed were people between the ages of 15 and 34. Over half (57.6%) did not complete matric.
Year-on-year, the official unemployment rate increased by 0.2% of a percentage point.
The two surveys are not fully comparable due to the way in which the data is collected, Stats SA warned.