The latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) reported that the country lost a total of 355 000 jobs from the last quarter of 2015 to the first quarter of 2016, for an astonishing 2,2% decline in a single quarter. But the figures seem unreliable, due at least in part to the shift to a new master sample. The data likely reflect an effective correction to overestimates of job creation in the previous four quarters, rather than a sharp contraction in the real world. Year on year, employment reportedly rose by 204 000 or 1,3%, which is essentially in line with previous years and with expected GDP growth.
A new policy brief by Neva Makgetla, TIPS Programme Manager: Trade and Industry, unpacks the figures. While it is likely that employment creation has been affected by the broader economic slowdown, the sharp job losses reported for the first quarter of 2016 seem highly unlikely.