How many hours South Africans work each week

Statistics South Africa has released its latest Labour Market Dynamics report.

The document provides information on labour market trends between 2012–2017, identifying the factors that facilitate the movement into employment, as well as distinguishing in which sectors, industries, occupations, and provinces employment outcomes are better or have improved.

About 93.3% of those who were employed in 2012 and 93.1% in 2017 remained employed between the last two quarters (Q3 and Q4) of each year.

Between 2012 and 2017, the South African working-age population increased from 34.2 million to 37.3 million – which accounts for 66.7% of the total population of the country.

Over the same period, employment levels increased by 1.7 million from 14.4 million to 16.2 million and the number and level of unemployed persons increased by 1.3 million – from 4.8 million in 2012 to 6.1 million in 2017.

Both the unemployment rate (27.5%) and the absorption rate (43.4%) increased by 2.6 percentage points and 1.2 percentage points respectively.

Hours worked

One of the key focuses of the report is the number of hours South Africans are working each week.

The data showed that over the period 2012–2017, the volume of hours worked were higher among men compared to their female counterparts.

However, the volume of hours worked increased across all years for both men and women, except between 2015 and 2016 where a decline of 919,000 hours was observed among women.

Between 2012 and 2017 weekly hours worked by men remained unchanged at 45 hours except in 2012 where the average weekly hours worked was estimated at 46 hours.

Weekly hours worked by women remained constant at 41 hours across all years.


Hours worked by occupation

Historically, persons employed in the transport industry worked longer hours compared to those in other industries. The average hours worked in this industry was 50 hours in both 2012 and 2017.

All industries, with the exception of private households, indicated average hours worked from 40 and above in both 2012 and 2017. Those in private households worked 34 hours on average in both years.

The average weekly hours worked increased only among the skilled agricultural occupations and technicians over the period 2012 and 2017, while sales and services, managers, elementary and professional occupations experienced a decrease of two hours each.

Between 2012 and 2017, the average hours per week worked remained unchanged in two of the ten occupations: plant and machine operator and domestic worker.

Persons in the informal sector worked longer hours than those in the formal sector.

Weekly hours worked by those in the formal sector remained constant at 44 hours over the period 2012–2016 and increased to 45 hours in 2017.

The average weekly hours for those in the informal sector declined by two hours between 2012 and 2017. All nine provinces, except Western Cape, reflected a decline in average hours worked per week during this period.

In 2017, Northern Cape and Free State recorded the lowest weekly hours of 41 each while KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Limpopo reported the highest number of hours at 44 hours each.


Read: South Africa’s biggest salary survey – this is what people earn

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How many hours South Africans work each week