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Decreased job market is distressing

Statement by Abigail Moyo, spokesperson of the trade union UASA:

UASA is deeply distressed by the decrease in employment. Stats SA indicated that in last year’s final quarter, the job market decreased by 1,8% quarter-on-quarter, from 10,899,000 in September 2023 to 10,705,000 in December 2023. This is a worrying factor considering our already very high world-leading unemployment rate.

The decline was due to decreases in community services, construction, business services, manufacturing and mining sectors.  Full-time employment declined by 5,000 or -0,1% quarter-on-quarter, from 9,498,000 in September 2023 to 9,493,000 in December 2023.

According to the 19th UASA South African Employment Report (SAER) released in 2020, if this trend continues, more people are likely to die from the unemployment crisis than from a pandemic. While UASA has repeatedly called on the government to act on the unemployment crisis since before the world faced the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen very little to no returns from the various job summits.

Sadly, the recent increase in inflation, ongoing job cuts and retrenchments across various sectors, mainly in the mining sector, will further result in dire financial depression and economic distress for South Africa and its people.

While 2024 is a year of reflecting on the progress made by the government since the dawn of democracy 30 years ago, challenges and difficulties remain a day-to-day norm for many citizens. With 55.5 % of South Africans still living in poverty, how do we strike a balance between job creation and economic development when the situation continues to worsen?

We urge the government to intervene by providing relief funds to sustain threatened industries, including small business owners, and assist with sustainable job creation that can absorb a significant portion of the unemployed pool. The reality is that fellow South Africans are suffering. We must protect our industries, which are the backbone of our economy.

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