The national statistics agency has revealed that South Africa has shed 3,000 jobs in the non-agriculture sector in the first quarter of the year.

Statistics South Africa’s (StatsSA) quarterly employment survey showed that the job losses between last December and March were mainly driven by the construction, manufacturing and trade sectors.

In contrast, the transport, business services and community services and mining sectors showed slight growth in terms of job figures in the quarter under review.

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Year-on-year, there was a loss of 37,000 full-time jobs in all sectors, excluding agriculture, StatsSA said. This was however offset by an increase of 40,000 in part time jobs, resulting in a year-on-year increase in overall employment of 3,000 jobs.

The gross total earnings paid to workers decreased by R46.7 billion (US$2.81 billlion), or 0.6 percent, during the first quarter, reflecting decreases in most sectors, including transport, electricity, business and community services, trade and construction. Wages however increased in the mining sector.

The quarterly employment statistics survey is based on a sample of some 20,000 private companies and public entities. The results are used for estimates on employment and gross earnings that serve as inputs into gross domestic product (GDP) calculations and estimates on monthly earnings that help to monitor economic indicators in the SA economy.

It differs from the quarterly labour force report which is derived from a survey of households and forms the basis for the country’s official unemployment data. 

The official unemployment rate is currently at a record 30.1 percent of the labour force.

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The survey released on Tuesday was conducted before the impact of South Africa’s nationwide lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which began on March 27, reverberating  through an economy which had already entered a technical recession after contracting for two consecutive quarters.

The National Treasury expects the economy to contract by 7.2 percent in the current financial year and job losses to reach up to 1.79 million as a result of the pandemic.

– ANA, Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa