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Decline in formal sector employment for 2023 Q4 – Stats SA

Image of Risenga Maluleke

Statistician-General of South Africa Risenga Maluleke

26th March 2024

By: Thabi Shomolekae

Creamer Media Senior Writer


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The Statistician-General of South Africa Risenga Maluleke on Tuesday reported a decrease in the total number of employees in the formal non-agricultural sector of 194 000 in the fourth quarter of 2023, bringing the level of employment to 10.7-million people.

Maluleke was releasing the results of the Non-financial Census of Municipalities 2022, where he said the decrease is from 10 899 000 employed in September 2023 to 10 705 000 in December 2023. He said this is a decline of 1.8%.

According to the Quarterly Employment Statistics survey released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), 98 000 jobs were created between December 2022 and December 2023.

Maluleke noted that the community services industry saw the highest number of job losses, totalling 214 000, followed by the construction industry which lost 19 000 jobs, and the business services industry, which experienced a loss of 12 000 jobs.

The mining sector reported a moderate decrease, with 1 000 job losses reported during the same period, he added.

However, he explained that certain industries experienced growth in employment, such as the trade industry which saw an increase of 31 000 jobs for a total of 56 000 jobs, trailed by the transport industry with 2 000 jobs, and the electricity industry with 1 000 jobs.

He noted that full-time employment decreased by 5 000 jobs, dropping from 9 498 000 in the third quarter of 2023 to 9 493 000 in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Maluleke announced that several industries witnessed declines in full-time employment.

He said the construction sector observed a reduction of 13 000 jobs, followed by the manufacturing industry with a loss of 12 000 jobs, and the community services industry with a decrease of 11 000 jobs.

Year-on-year, the number of full-time jobs rose by 12 000 in December 2023 compared to December 2022, said Maluleke.

He explained that part-time employment decreased by 189 000, reaching a total of 1 212 000 in December 2023 compared to 1 401 000 reported in September 2023.

“This decrease was mainly driven by declines in community services with 203 000 jobs. Business services, construction and transport industries reported losses of 9 000, 6 000 and 1 000 jobs, respectively. However, certain industries experienced an increase in part-time employment, with trade adding 25 000 jobs and manufacturing adding 5 000 jobs. Electricity remained unchanged for the quarter,” he said.

Year-on-year part-time employment saw a rise of 86 000 jobs compared to the corresponding quarter of 2023, he highlighted.

He said in 2012, the unemployment rate among immigrants was 15.6%. This rate increased slightly to 18.4% in 2017 and rose to 18.2% by 2022.

The highest proportion of immigrants were employed in private households at 18.4%, followed by construction (17.2%) and wholesale and retail trade (13.6%) industries.


Meanwhile, the number of people employed by municipalities increased by 10.4%, from 298 938 in 2020/21 to 330 163 in 2021/22, including funded vacancies.

The number of consumer units receiving services from municipalities increased between 2020/21 and 2021/22.

Maluleke explained that for the period under review, water showed the highest percentage increase (5.9%), followed by sewerage and sanitation (3.7%), electricity (1.7%) and solid waste management (1.6%).  

The provision of free basic services provided to consumer units decreased in all services between the 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years, he said.

“Differences in the number of consumer units receiving free basic services between 2020/21 and 2021/22 were the result of households not renewing their status in 2021/22 and they were therefore automatically deregistered by their respective municipalities. Furthermore, some households have reached a predefined threshold that made them no longer eligible to receive benefits,” Maluleke explained.

Maluleke noted that according to 2021/22 financial year estimates, there were 2.6-million indigent households as identified by municipalities, an increase of 1.8% from 2020/21 financial year.

He added that of the 2.6-million identified indigents, 2.1-million indigent households benefited from the indigent support system on water, while 1.8-million benefited from indigent support on electricity provided by municipalities.

Furthermore, 1.9-million indigent households benefited from the indigent support system on sewerage and sanitation and 1.6-million indigent households benefited from the indigent support system on solid waste management.

Bucket toilets provided by municipalities to households decreased by 974 (-2.1%) consumer units from 46 753 to 45 779 between 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years.



Edited by Sashnee Moodley
Senior Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia



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