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Low hiring confidence sees modest growth in jobs

| Economic factors

The number of people employed by SA’s formal sector rose modestly in the fourth quarter of last year, supported by a rise in seasonal employment.

hiring confidence sees modest growth in jobs This marginal growth in jobs is in line with low confidence among employers coupled with weak demand.

The country’s formal sector employed 42,000 more people in the three months, taking the total number of employees to 8.989-million, Statistics SA’s quarterly employment survey (QES) showed on Tuesday.

A relatively subdued economic growth outlook, high operating costs, a challenging labour environment and depressed business confidence would continue to restrict private-sector job creation in SA, said Investec economist Kamilla Kaplan.

Jobs were created by trade; business services, transport, manufacturing and community industries, and shed in construction and mining.

Industries such as trade and business services normally add jobs during the busy festive period and lose them in January.

Retailers, hotels and restaurants were the main job creators in the trade sector. Although manufacturing created jobs in the fourth quarter, the survey showed massive job losses annually.

Manufacturing employed 31,000 fewer people by December last year compared with the 1.165-million in December 2013.

The mining sector also registered job losses. It employed 7,000 fewer people by December last year compared with a year earlier.

Mining and manufacturing — usually economic-growth drivers and main job creators in the country — have lost their glory due to strikes, high labour costs and lower commodity prices.

The community, social and personal services industry — a proxy for public service — employed 59,000 more people in December last year compared to a year earlier but only 1,000 more people in the fourth quarter of last year.

The jobs created during the quarter were marginal by historical standards and were in line with government plans to reduce the growth in spending, particularly on wages. There were, for instance, 14,000 more people hired by the community, social and personal services industry in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Stats SA noted that the jobs data were based on an updated survey with more taxpaying businesses than in previous surveys.

"The result of the coverage enhancement work for the QES is that the level of employment shown by the new series from June 2013 is considerably higher, approximately 0.5-million, than published to date," Stats SA said.

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