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Employment is up, but not keeping pace

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The new Labour Market Dynamics in South Africa, 2015 report, from Statistics South Africa, shows that between 2009 and 2015 employment increased from 14,2-million to 15,7-million. This rise, however, did not keep pace with the increase in the working age population and as such the absorption rate, at 43,7% in 2015 was still 2,2 percentage points below the 2008 pre-recessionary high.
The rise in employment levels was supported by increases in eight of the ten industries, the largest of which were recorded in Community and Social Services (737 000), Finance (336 000) and Construction (216 000). In addition, strong employment growth in occupations such as Elementary occupations (663 000), Sales (540 000) and Manager (178 000) supported the robust employment growth over the period 2009 to 2015.
Between 2009 and 2015, employment levels in the formal sector increased by 968 000 to 10,9-million, while informal sector employment increased from 2,2-million in 2009 to 2,6-million in 2015.
Over the period 2009 to 2015, the average weekly hours worked declined from 44 hours in 2009 to 43 hours in 2015. While men worked longer hours relative to women, for both groups monthly average hours declined; from 46 to 45 hours amongst men and from 42 to 41 hours amongst women.
The median job tenure of employees (length of time an employed persons has been with their current employer) increased over the period 2009 to 2011, remaining constant at 47 months for three consecutive years and then declined to 44 months in 2015.
Between 2011 and 2015, the proportion of employees who were entitled to paid sick leave increased by 0,6 of a percentage point to 68,3%, while the share of employees who were members of a trade union decreased from 29,3% in 2011 to 27,4% in 2015. Access to medical aid benefits decreased by 1,0 percentage point, from 30,5% of employees in 2009 to 29,5% in 2015.

Earnings
Between 2010 and 2015, employees in Mining and Utilities continued to be the top earners, with the largest increases in earnings also recorded for these two industries (R2 500 and R1 500 respectively) followed by Agriculture (R936). Over the period, monthly median earnings declined only in Community and Social Services (R1 000).
Robust earnings growth was recorded for Managers (R6 000) and Professionals (R7 400) and declined only amongst Technicians (R1 900). Median monthly earnings remained unchanged in the Clerk and Skilled Agriculture occupational categories.

Unemployment
The unemployment rate increased from 23,7% in 2009 to 25,3% in 2015, while the number of long-term unemployed persons increased by 828 000, accounting for 88% of the increase in the total number of the unemployed. Those who have been unemployed for more than five years increased from just over 1-million to 1,5-million over the period.
Persons with less than a matric qualification accounted for 59,1% of the long-term unemployed in 2015, down from 62,4% in 2009. The share of persons with a Tertiary qualification amongst the long-term unemployed increased from 4,7% in 2009 to 7,0% in 2015.

Youth
The number of young people in the working age population increased from 18,5-million in 2009 to 19,8-million in 2015, as the number of unemployed and discouraged youth increased (371 000 and 470 000 respectively).
The share of youth employed in the formal sector declined from 72% in 2009 to 70,3% in 2015, while the share of those employed in private households decreased (from 6,4% to 5,3%) and the share of those in the informal sector increased (from 16,4% to 17,9%).
Nationally, 50,9% of unemployed youth had no previous work experience. Gauteng (56,5%) has the highest proportion of unemployed youth with no work experience, while Northern Cape (35,4%) had the lowest.
Between 2013 and 2015, the Not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEET) rate for youth aged 15-24 years increased among only Indian/Asian youth (5,9 percentage points), but remained highest among black African and Coloured youth at 31,7% and 32% respectively. In 2015 the NEET rate was highest in the Northern Cape (36,5%) and lowest in Limpopo (27,3%), with the NEET rate increasing in the Northern Cape and Free State. The largest decline over the period was in the North West (5,1 percentage points).