Not even Christmas shopping could help lift unemployment numbers

In the fourth quarter of 2019 the trade sector lost 159,000 jobs, meaning the usual upward tick brought about by the festive season was missing this time around.
In the fourth quarter of 2019 the trade sector lost 159,000 jobs, meaning the usual upward tick brought about by the festive season was missing this time around.
Image: Graphic: RUBY GAY MARTIN

Unemployment in the fourth quarter of 2019 was flat at 29.1%, Stats SA’s quarterly labour force survey (QLFS) revealed on Tuesday, the first time it has not decreased in the fourth quarter since 2008.

Using the expanded definition of unemployment, which includes discouraged work seekers (individuals who are available to work, but have stopped looking for a job), the unemployment rate increased to 38.7% quarter-on-quarter.

At these levels, SA’s unemployment rate is deemed to be unsustainably high as the country’s economy battles to grow and create jobs, reports BusinessLIVE.

The QLFS is a household survey taken by Stats SA that covers the formal and informal sectors, as well as agricultural workers and households.

Ahead of the release, some economists noted that the unemployment rate might fall in the fourth quarter as it has typically done historically, thanks in part to festive season trade.

Absa senior economists Miyelani Maluleke and Peter Worthington noted that jobs tend to be added in the manufacturing, trade, transport, financial and community sectors in the fourth quarter of the year. However, in Q4 of 2019, the trade sector saw a loss of 159,000 jobs from the previous quarter.

In the past, the trade sector has traditionally seen an uptick in temporary jobs in Q4 as as it gears up for festive season shopping, according to Malerato Mosiane, the acting chief director of labour statistics at Stats SA.


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