Stats SA: Job rate at pre-recession level

Statistics SA released its Quarterly Labour Force Survey, saying unemployment is down to 24.7%.

Statistics SA released its Quarterly Labour Force Survey, saying unemployment is down to 24.7%. Picture: Stats SA.

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) on Tuesday said the official unemployment rate has dropped by 0.9 percent to 24.7 percent in the third quarter of 2013.

The Quarterly Labour Force Survey also showed that the number of unemployed people dropped to 6.8 million, the same number as the final quarter of 2008, shortly before the world economy slid into recession.

According to the latest employment data, more South Africans are at work today than ever before.

However, Stats SA also acknowledged that the working age population had risen by 2.3 million, meaning the actual percentage of the potential workforce dropped to 41.9 percent.

But the official rate refers to the number of active job seekers, which their data shows has declined by 114,000.

Stanlib Asset Management Chief Economist Kevin Lings says that data is questionable.

"Stats SA is telling us that there were 308,000 jobs created in the third quarter of this year. That, if it's true, would be the best quarter employment growth we've seen in years.

"Unfortunately, if I look at other data, particularly the consumer confidence number for the third quarter, it plummeted to its lowest level in more than a decade. That doesn't fit with a record gain in terms of employment."

Lings also cites AdCorp, which compiles its own employment data, saying employment in the last three months has actually fallen by "almost 170,000 jobs."

"The data may be moving in the right direction, but I'm sceptical because the supporting evidence does not back that up."

Earlier on Tuesday, the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci)'s Peggy Drodskie said the change is so small it won't make any difference.

She said figures were going in the right direction but, "With the high unemployment rate that we have, this will make no tangible difference whatsoever."

For the full report from Stats SA, _ click here._

For 567 CapeTalk/Talk Radio 702's Bruce Whitfield'_s _full interview with Lings, click here.