A large number of domestic workers have lost their jobs so far in 2018

New data from StatsSA reveals that South Africa’s unemployment crisis worsened in the third quarter of 2018, albeit marginally.

Worryingly, the data showed that the country’s stagnant economy has led to heavy casualties in the unskilled sector of the market, namely domestic workers. Year-on-year, as many as 61,000 domestic worker positions have been lost, to 984,000 posts in September, from 1.045 million a year earlier.

Stats SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the third quarter of the year, showed that the country’s unemployment rate increased marginally to 27.5%.

The number of employed persons increased by 92,000 to 16.4 million, but the number of unemployed persons rose by 127,000 to 6.2 million in Q3: 2018.

The absorption rate remained unchanged at 43.1% and the unemployment rate increased by 0.3 of a percentage point to 27.5% in the same period.

The expanded unemployment rate rose 0.1% to 37.3%, StatsSA said.

Employment losses were largely recorded in technician (48,000), clerical (16,000) and domestic worker (12,000) occupations during this period.

Year-on-year changes show that gains in employment were mainly driven by elementary (145,000), craft and related  trade (97,000), sales and services (82,000) and plant and machine operators (61,000) occupations, while clerical (94,000), domestic worker (61,000) and  technicians (51,000) occupations recorded the largest employment declines.

Domestic worker jobs are at risk in South Africa as the economy and changes to wage regulations add increasing pressure on the households, or the economic sector which typically makes use of their services.

With the local economy in a technical recession, and amid shrinking disposable disposable incomes, along with the added demands of higher wages being introduced with the National Minimum Wage, the effect of this adverse environment is being reflected in employment data.

According to Stats SA, elementary and domestic workers represent close to 30% of the South African workforce – of which, domestic workers account for around 6%.

Employment by occupation

Read: South African unemployment rate climbs as the formal sector sheds jobs

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A large number of domestic workers have lost their jobs so far in 2018