Johannesburg, 29 October 2019 – The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) is concerned following today’s the release by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) today of data, showing an increase in the unemployment numbers in the domestic economy, Economist Marique Kruger said.

The latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS), which is a household-based sample survey that captures labour market activities of persons aged 15-64 years, indicates an increase in the number of jobs in the broader domestic economy on a quarter-on-quarter basis from 16 313 000 in the second quarter of 2019, to 16 375 000 in the third quarter of 2019.

Speaking after the release of the numbers, Ms Kruger said despite the increase in jobs numbers, there was a more-than-proportionate increase in the number of unemployed persons, thereby compounding the unemployment number to 6.7 million persons in the third quarter of 2019, from 6.6 million. As a result, there was a slight increase in the unemployment rate from 29 percent during the second quarter of 2019 to 29.1 percent during the third quarter of 2019.

“The increase in unemployment numbers is concerning, especially as the unemployment dilemma continues to be difficult for policy makers and captains of industry to deal with. Despite ample political will and willingness by key stakeholders – including Business, Labour, Civil society and Government – to collaborate,  in finding sustainable solutions to the scourge of unemployment, there has been little progress made hitherto,” she said

Ms Kruger said the data shows that efforts aimed at easing unemployment are not bearing fruits, and that more time is still needed for initiatives aimed at creating sustainable employment to become more effective.

However, Ms Kruger said SEIFSA remains confident that identified interventions aimed at attracting investment will invariably stabilise employment numbers in the medium to long term, against the backdrop of recent moderate job gains.

“The broader manufacturing sector – including its metals and engineering (M&E) cluster of industries – w  recorded employment losses of 30 000 jobs during the third quarter of 2019, representing a -1.6 percent quarter-on-quarter decrease. However, encouragingly the sector gained 41 000 jobs in the year, a 2.4 percent year-on-year change,” she said.

In conclusion, Ms Kruger said the changes in employment numbers were varied in other industrial sectors. The mining sector recorded a net gain of 38 000 jobs on a quarter-on-quarter basis, while also gaining a total of 13 000 jobs year on year. The construction sector shed 24 000 jobs on a quarter-on-quarter basis.

SEIFSA is a National Federation representing 23 independent employer Associations in the metals and engineering industries, with a combined membership of 1600 companies employing around 200 000 employees. The Federation was formed in 1943 and its member companies range from giant steel-making corporations to micro-enterprises employing fewer than 50 people.