South Africa’s Employment Times: Jobs, Unemployment and Hiring in Q4 2009.

In a statement by Mr Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Economic Development, to the National Assembly on the framework for South Africa’s response to the International Economic Crisis on 20 August 2009 he said: “The recession was triggered by the global economic crisis and South Africa lagged many other economies in the timing of its impact on our production, employment and economic performance. Early signs were evident from late last year but the economic data released this year has confirmed the scale of the impact on our economy. We have recently experienced what has been described as the worst quarterly economic performance in 25 years with serious declines in both manufacturing and mining production.”

To further quote from the speech of Mr Ebrahim Patel: “The global economic crisis started in the financial sector but has rapidly become a real economy crisis. The loss of jobs is now the biggest cost that societies are paying for serious policy and design flaws in the global economy.”

This statement was supported by another press release in the Business Times on 30 October 2009, which stated that the pace of job losses accelerated during July to September of this year, even though the impact of the recession was thought to have eased.

Here are a few recent statistics depicting the state of employment in our nation as we head towards the final quarter of 2009:

• Number of people with Jobs in Q3 fell by 484,000 to 12,9 million.
• Unemployment rate currently at 24,5%, up from 23,6% in the previous quarter.
• 1,07 million jobs lost this year despite initial estimates of 400,000.
• Nearly half a million job losses during July & September this year, being the largest fall in one quarter in 20 years.
• 1 out of every 18 jobs lost so far this year.

“These results showed a continued deterioration in SA’s labour market, with the jobless rate up for the third quarter in a row” said Kefiloe Masiteng, Deputy Director-Generate at Stats SA.

Unemployment Statistics by Sector (Stats SA):-
• More than half the jobs lost were in the formal sector.
• Manufacturing lost 150,000 jobs (8.8% decline).
• Retail lost 110,000 jobs (3.7% decline).
• Informal sector lost 116,000 jobs.
• Agriculture lost 57,000 jobs.
• Private households lost 28,000 jobs.

Investec economist, Kgotso Radira said “The rise in retrenchments across all sectors indicates the fragility of the economy and suggests that demand will take some time to pick up, despite lower interest rates and inflation.”

In another October’09 press release, Manpower SA’s Managing Director, Jan Coetzee said that employers anticipate a subdued hiring climate for the fourth quarter of 2009. According to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, the Net Employment Outlook for SA has decreased 16% compared with the fourth quarter of 2008. The survey further reveals that 12% of employers expect to increase headcount, 11 % forecast a decrease and 73% predict no change while 4% remained undecided.

The percentage of South African employers who indicated that they would make no headcount change increased from 67% in Q3 to 73% in Q4. Coetzee commented that this might show some stability in the labour market with employers determined to retain their current talent until recovery from the economical climate occurs.

Net Employment Outlook* Index by Sector (Manpower Employment Outlook Survey):-
• Electricity, Gas & Water supply +8%
• Hospitality +8%
• Agriculture & Forestry +6%
• Manufacturing -8% with Outlook improving by 13%
• Mining & Quarrying with Outlook improving by 11%
• Construction Outlook improving by 9%
• Wholesale & Retail Outlook decreasing by 12%
• Transport & Storage Outlook decreasing by 11%
• Communications Outlook decreasing by 11%

Year-on-Year, the Outlook is weaker in all sectors. “The good news is that many markets appear to be heading in the right direction with results from 20 countries and territories showing positive movement from three months ago. Employers in emerging markets are more optimistic about hiring than their counterparts in more developed economies” says Coetzee.

In a different survey conducted by The SA Recruiters Network in July of this year, statistics showed that by the end of Q2 of this year South African employers had already felt the impact of the recession as 26% of companies indicated that most vacancies had been temporarily frozen until further notice, 4% were putting a hold on all hiring until their new financial year, 56% were only filling critical roles and 14% felt that the recession had not yet impacted them and that they were hiring as per usual.

South African Job Portal,, reported that Q3 received its highest rate of Job Seeker CV registrations than ever before. “We have seen a 233% year-on-year growth in the average number of CV’s registering per month compared to Q3 of last year” says CEO, Gillian Meier. “Our CV registration to visitor rate for Q3 is 7% higher than Q1 of this year – which is typically the peak job hunting season. As more jobs are lost, unemployed Job Seekers are desperate to find employment and are becoming more proactive and are often registering on multiple job portals.”’s 10 most advertised jobs by category for Q3:
1. Information Technology
2. Auditing, Accounting, Banking & Financial Services
3. Engineering
4. Hospitality
5. Education & Training
6. Government & Public Sector
7. Health, Medical & Pharmaceutical
8. Human Resources
9. Mining
10. Retail & Wholesale’s 10 most registered job seekers by category for Q3:
1. Administration
2. Information Technology
3. Auditing, Accounting, Banking & Financial Services
4. Call Centre & Helpdesk
5. Engineering
6. Consulting
7. Human Resources
8. Marketing
9. Building & Construction
10. Sales

In another extract from Mr Ebrahim Patel’s speech he said that to address the issue of job loss in certain sectors, the Leadership Team has facilitated discussions at sector levels between business and labour, and measures to address their immediate problems have been identified. These include support for distressed companies in the automotive sector, a rescue package for the clothing and textiles industry, increased incentives for the manufacture of capital equipment, transport equipment and fabricated metal products linked to South Africa’s infrastructure development programme, and payments by government to small, medium and micro enterprises and other businesses within 30 days.

We end this update on the current employment situation in South Africa with a final quote from Mr Patel: “We have no choice but to redouble our efforts in doing all that is reasonably possible to ensure that the commitments we have made in the Framework are realised. Our people demand – and deserve – no less”.

Source of Information & Statistics:
- Kefiloe Masiteng, Deputy Director-Generate at Stats SA.Stats SA
- Business Day – Economics Editor, Mariam ISA.
- Kgotso Radira – Investec
- Manpower SA – Managing Director, Jan Coetzee. (Manpower Employment Outlook Survey)
- SARecruiters Network
- Mr Ebrahim Pate, Minister of Economic Development Parliamentary Monitoring Group - (

*The “Net Employment Outlook” figures is derived by taking the % of employers anticipating total employment to increase, and subtracting from this, the % expecting to see a decrease)

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