Employment growth

By: Niko Allie

In amongst all the doom and gloom brought on by the electricity crisis, rising interests rates, the high cost of living and the conflict in Ukraine, it might have been missed that our economy has been steadily on the rebound. 

The 2023 Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the third quarter shows positive growth in the number of jobs. The results show that the number of employed persons increased by 399 000 to 16,7 million in the third quarter of 2023 compared to 16,3 million in the second quarter of 2023.

We should never forget that the pandemic had a devastating effect on jobs and on the economy. Thousands of people lost jobs and many companies had to close shop or reduce their output.  The resilience of our economy has however, continued to shine through despite new headwinds caused by conflict in Ukraine and global economic uncertainty. 

The third quarter figures show that formal sector employment increased by 287 000 and informal sector employment increased by 29 000 over the same period. Although this is far from what is needed to address our stubborn levels of poverty, inequality and unemployment, it shows that we are moving in the right direction. 

Every new job created brings hope and in many cases, one job has the potential to support entire households. As a government, we are working to create pathways to employment and to grow our economy so that we can ignite hope for a better tomorrow.

We are doing this by focussing on our economic fundamentals, and by pursuing new sources of growth and investment, while also ensuring that we create a capable and stable state.

During the COVID-19 crisis, we witnessed a national and coordinated response, which harnessed the strengths of all sectors of society. We will look to do so again now as we implement the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP). We firmly believe that the reconstruction of our economy must become a shared responsibility and that growth will require domestic and international investment.

The Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan is being implemented and has helped to create jobs and reduce poverty and inequality. Under the ERRP, we are transforming key sectors of our economy such as electricity, rail, ports and telecommunications.

Government is also working to rebuild and renew infrastructure in critical areas such as student accommodation, social housing, telecommunications, water and sanitation. Our focus on infrastructure is not only changing lives but also driving economic growth and creating employment.

Another milestone achieved has been the growth of the Presidential Employment Stimulus  and Youth Employment Intervention. The two programmes have created more than 1.7 million job opportunities and provided livelihood support, predominantly benefiting young people.

It is also notable that despite our many challenges, South Africa remains an investment destination of choice with many international brands expanding their operations here. Since the inaugural South African Investment Conference in 2018, we have attracted R1.51 trillion in new investment pledges, of which over R500 billion has already flowed into the economy.

The growth shown in the third quarter of the 2023 Quarterly Labour Force Survey should therefore not come as a surprise.  Government, along with business and our social partners have been laying the groundwork for a revival and every new job created is a step in the right direction.