The jobs bloodbath continued in the third quarter, with more than 30,000 jobs lost, Statistics SA data showed on Tuesday.

On the same day, manufacturing figures showed the sector performed better than had been expected. Mining production data released last week showed the sector was growing.

Formal employment in SA, excluding the agricultural sector, fell by 31,000 jobs in the third quarter of 2017.

A total of 9,000 jobs were lost in mining in the third quarter and manufacturing shed 5,000 jobs, despite both sectors having staged recoveries and posted uninterrupted growth for three consecutive quarters.

Manufacturing recorded 2.2% growth for October. Last week, data showed that mining production increased 5.2% year on year in October.

NKC economist Elize Kruger said on Tuesday that the job losses were symptomatic of
a stagnant economy and depressed business confidence.

"It is very clear that the confidence deficit — related to policy and political uncertainties — is keeping [the] ... economy hostage. [This is] not only evident in mediocre economic growth performance but also in the dismal job market," she said.

It was imperative to restore confidence in the economy to stem the downward spiral. This hinged on political certainty, with the focus cast on the ANC’s elective conference this weekend, said Kruger.

SA’s formal sector employment has been under pressure in recent quarters, but the job losses were relatively modest in the context of total employment, said Stanlib chief economist Kevin Lings.

The lack of job creation was worsening the tax revenue shortfall and weakening consumer confidence, he said.

"It is also leading to a further rise in social tension and discontent, which has important political implications."

Nedbank economist Nicky Weimar said decisive and immediate action was required to tackle corruption, restore fiscal sustainability, improve confidence and lift growth.

The Manufacturing Circle, which is the voice of the sector, said it was dealing with job creation through its Map to
a Million initiative.

"If manufacturing can expand to 30% of GDP, between 800,000 and 1.1-million direct jobs can be created, with five to eight times that in indirect jobs," said Manufacturing Circle chairman Andre de Ruyter.

He explained that the sector needed to increase domestic demand, pursue import substitution and enhance export competitiveness. Importantly, De Ruyter added, this hinged on support from the government. 


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