The ManPower Group has released its latest employment outlook survey for South Africa.
The survey was conducted by interviewing a representative sample of 750 employers, and is based on how employers expect employment to change from September to the end of December 2018.
It comes at a time when GDP data published last week by Stats SA showed that the country has entered into a technical recession.
Local employers reported conservative hiring intentions for the upcoming quarter. With 14% of employers expecting to increase staffing levels, 8% forecasting a decrease and 78% anticipating no change, the resulting net employment outlook is +6%.
Once the data is adjusted to allow for seasonal variation, the outlook also stands at +6%. Hiring intentions are unchanged when compared with the previous quarter, and remain relatively stable in comparison with the fourth quarter of 2017.
“South Africa’s economy continues to be weighed down by slower-than-expected economic growth, which can translate into employers being cautious about hiring and spending related activity, especially in the run-up to the year-end holiday season,” said Lyndy van den Barselaar, MD of ManpowerGroup SA.
“This is reflected in the fact that 78% of responding companies are expecting to make no change in their hiring strategies in the last quarter of the year,” she said.
Payrolls are forecast to increase in three of the five regions during the final quarter of 2018.
KwaZulu Natal employers report favourable hiring prospects with a net employment outlook of +13%, while employers in both Gauteng and Western Cape report encouraging signs for job seekers with outlooks of +8% and +7%, respectively.
However, Free State employers anticipate a flat labour market with an outlook of 0%, while Eastern Cape employers expect to trim payrolls, reporting an outlook of -5%.
“The province of KwaZulu-Natal continues to be a focus for investment and projects that are expected to boost the economy and create employment,” said van den Barselaar.
“For example, pulp and paper giant Sappi has announced major planned upgrades at its Saiccor Mill in Umkomaas, Durban, which will be worth R7 billion. The investments are reported to include a R2.7 billion capacity expansion project and a planned R5 billion investment over five years in various continuous improvement initiatives and upgrade projects.
“These kinds of investments would certainly be expected to create further employment opportunities in the region. Once again, it is surprising that further employment from these projects have not been reflected in the forecast for the construction sector, in the coming quarter,” she said.
Job gains are forecast in nine of the 10 industry sectors during the coming quarter.
The strongest labour market is anticipated in the Agriculture, Hunting, Forestry & Fishing sector – where employers report a net employment outlook of +18%.
Steady payroll gains are also forecast for the Wholesale & Retail Trade sector, with an outlook of +16%.
Elsewhere, Transport, Storage & Communication sector employers report moderate hiring prospects, with an Outlook of +10%, while some workforce gains are anticipated in both the Restaurants & Hotels sector and the Mining & Quarrying sector, with outlooks of +8% and +6%, respectively.
However, Construction sector employers forecast a sluggish labour market, reporting an outlook of -7%.
“South Africa’s agricultural sector over the short to medium term is now beginning to experience some growth again,” van den Barselaar said.
“It was recently reported that wine and wool exports, especially to China, have offered the sector some relief; as have an increase in international prices, which lent support to domestic pork and poultry prices.
“The expected growth in the Wholesale & Retail Trade sector are also typical of the last quarter of the year, as consumers begin to spend and buy more, leading up to the festive season.”