Elementary Occupations hit hard in latest Unemployment data

Unemployment

Elementary Occupations hit hard in latest Unemployment data: Mothers of the Nation segment under strain

The Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) data was released this week showing that the official unemployment rate increased by 0.2 of a percentage point (just over half a percent) from 32.7% in the fourth quarter of 2022 to 32.9% in the first quarter of 2023. One possible silver lining, highlighted by Stats SA when they released the QLFS, is the fact that the number of employed persons increased by 258 000 to 16.2m, and this is the 6th consecutive increase since 2021 Q4.

Eighty20 has created a National Segmentation that divides all adult South Africans representing over R3.7trn in earnings per annum into 8 homogenous groups.  One of these groups is the 7m Mothers of the Nation segment.  These are low income, typically female grant recipients (40%) who are mainly unemployed or underemployed.  Their average age is 35 years with an average personal income of around R1,000 per month, although their average household income is eight times this figure. If they are employed, it is likely an elementary occupation with most Domestic Workers in this segment,” says Andrew Fulton, Director at Eighty20.

Focussing on the elementary occupations that support these predominantly single mothers, we find four mostly female occupations: street vendors (food and non-food), sweepers, and helpers & cleaners that account for ~1.3m jobs.  Domestic helpers and cleaners are a further 830 000 people, and 95% are female.  Together these female-dominated occupations account for nearly 16% of the entire South African labour force.

Elementary occupations make up more than a quarter of all jobs in South Africa and have experienced major shifts over the past four years.  The sector has weathered multiple storms from economic uncertainty, recession, and the pandemic – and is at huge risk as employers look for ways to cut costs by downsizing or eliminating certain jobs. These jobs are often more susceptible to layoffs or workforce reductions due to their lower skill requirements.

Elementary Occupations 2020-2023

Of the female dominated occupations, Domestic Workers have been the hardest hit within the Elementary Occupation sector.  Three years after the Covid lockdown, the number of Domestic Workers is still down nearly 20% (~200,000 jobs) in 2023, whilst farm labourers, hand-packers, road construction workers and street food vendors have bounced back.

Youth unemployment is still a massive problem in this country with the15-24 age group facing a 62.1% unemployment rate and those aged 25-34 years at 40.7%.

“Education makes a huge difference as another area of concern is NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training), with approximately 3.7m (36.1%) out of 10.2m young people aged 15-24 years Despite the graduate unemployment rate (10.6%) being significantly lower than the national unemployment rate, it has in fact doubled over the last 10 years and is surprisingly high for a country with a shortage of skilled labour. This speaks to a growing structural employment problem, where despite jobs being available there is a mismatch between the skills workers have compared to what is required from employers.” concludes Fulton.


One response to “Elementary Occupations hit hard in latest Unemployment data

  1. Pieter Hugo

    12 months Ago

    It is madness that a tax break is not available wben employing a domestic worker or gardener1. There are so many reasons why the government should introduce such an incentive: 1. It will directly create employment 2. It will prevent abuse 3. it will increase wages 4. It will effect direct wealth redistribution.

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