Employment in the formal non-agricultural sector decreased by 0.2% in the first quarter of 2016, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) said on Monday.

“The results, quarter-on-quarter, change. We can see that between the last quarter of December and the first quarter of March, we lost jobs in mining. South Africa also lost jobs in manufacturing. The jobs in electricity remained the same.

“Construction picked up a bit. Trade dropped jobs between December and March and every other sector, except community [and personal services industry], actually dropped jobs and that led to a 15 000 drop in jobs or a negative 0.2% between the first quarter 2016 compared to the last quarter of December 2016,” Statistician General Pali Lehohla, said on Monday.

Lehohla was releasing the findings of the Quarterly Employment Statistics (QES) for the first quarter of 2016. The survey collects information from seven of the country’s 10 economic industries such as mining and quarrying, manufacturing, construction as well as business services. The survey excludes the informal business sector.

According to the report, there were an estimated 9 273 000 jobs in the formal non-agricultural sector in March 2016.

The mining industry continued its decline in the first quarter, with jobs decreasing by 4 000 employees. This is the sixth consecutive quarter of decline. Mining recorded a decline of 17 000 employees in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Trade saw a decline of 36 000 jobs in the first quarter. Traditionally, trade peaks in the fourth quarter and declines in the first quarter due to a number of temporary workers being employed in the festive season.

Business services and finances lost 9 000 jobs in the first quarter. The decline in jobs, said Lehohla, was due to the end of contracts as well as retrenchments.

The community services and construction industries recorded increased levels of employment over the same period, increasing by 1.7% and 0.6% respectively.

Gross earnings decrease by R22 billion

In the quarter ended March 2016, employee gross earnings decreased by 4% (R22 billion) from R545 billion in the fourth quarter of 2015.

The QES showed decreases in gross earnings for all industries, with the exception of the business services industry. Earnings in this industry increased by 2.7% (R3.7 billion) to R141 billion in the first quarter of 2016 — up from the R137 billion recorded in the last quarter of 2015.

Stats SA said the changes in gross earnings in all industries can be attributed to the base effects that arose as a result of bonuses and overtime payment paid in the previous quarter (December 2015).

Average monthly earnings, including bonuses and overtime payments for all industries in the formal non-agricultural sector of the economy, remained at R17 422 in February 2016.

Source: SAnews.gov.za.