South Africa added 45,000 domestic workers to the economy last quarter

New data from StatsSA shows that South Africa added 45,000 domestic workers to the economy last quarter.

Stats SA has published its latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the fourth quarter of 2018, showing that South Africa ended last year with an unemployment rate of 27.1%.

This puts the unemployment rate at 0.4 of a percentage point lower than 3Q2018, where the rate climbed marginally to 27.5%.

And after almost 32,000 domestic workers lost their jobs during the course of 2018, the latest employment data from Stats SA shows that there was a turn for workers in the last quarter.

South African households employ approximately one million domestic workers, with the number fluctuating around that level over the last decade.

A “domestic worker” is any worker who performs domestic work in a private household and who received, or is entitled to receive, a wage .

This includes cleaners and gardeners; a person employed by a household as a driver of a motor vehicle; a person who takes care of children, the aged, the sick, the frail or the disabled; and domestic workers employed or supplied by employment services.

The highest number of domestic workers employed in recent years was recorded in the third quarter of 2017, when 1.045 million people were employed in such a wide role.

However, this was followed by a steep decline to 984,000 a year later (third quarter 2018) – a net loss of 61,000 jobs in the sector (year-on-year, Q3 2017 to Q3 2018).

From the start of 2018 to the third quarter drop, there was a net loss of 32,000 domestic worker jobs.

The latest data published by Stats SA shows that by the end of the year (Q4) this was turned into a net gain (yoy) with 13,000 jobs added compared to Q4 2017 – representing 45,000 new jobs since Q3 2018.

This bucks the trend of fourth quarter hiring activity, which usually sees a drop-off in the number of domestic workers being hired – typically in line with the season where houses sit empty as households leave on holiday.

Hiring activity in the fourth quarter has generally seen a decline in domestic worker numbers – the worst of which was experienced in 2014, when numbers hit as low as 943,000.

Domestic worker jobs are typically more 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.

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 Was 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%.

Domestic worker salaries in South Africa

The new national minimum wage came into effect from 1 January 2019, with most workers now entitled to R20 for every ordinary hour worked.

There are, however, certain exceptions to the national minimum wage amount of R20 per hour – one being domestic workers, who are entitled to a minimum wage of R15 per hour.

As of 1 January 2019, domestic workers in Area A and Area B who work for more than 27 hours per week, as well as domestic workers in Area B who work for 27 hours per week or less are entitled to R15 as per the National Minimum Wage Act.

Domestic workers in Area A who work for less than 27 hours per week are entitled to R16.03,

The changes are reflected in the table below.

Area A includes: Bergrivier Local Municipality, Breederivier Local Municipality, Buffalo City Local Municipality, Cape Agulhas Local Municipality, Cederberg Local Municipality, City of Cape Town, City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality, Drakenstein Local Municipality, Ekurhulen Metropolitan Municipality, Emalahleni Local Municipality, Emfuleni Local Municipality, Ethekwini Metropolitan Unicity, Garnagara Local Municipality, George Local Municipality, Hibiscus Coast Local Municipality, Karoo Hoogland Local Municipality, Kgatelopele Local Municipality, Khara Hais Local Municipality, Knysna Local Municipality, Kungwini Local Municipality, Kouga Local Municipality, Langeberg Local Municipality Lesedi Local Municipality Makana Local Municipality, Mangaung Local Municipality, Matzikama Local Municipality, Metsimaholo Local Municipality, Middelburg Local Municipality, Midvaal Local Municipality, Mngeni Local Municipality, Mogale Local Municipality, Mosselbaai Local Municipality, Msunduzi Local Municipality, Mtubatu Local Municipality, Nama Khoi Local Municipality, Nelson Mandela, Nokeng tsa Taemane Local Municipality, Oudtshoorn Local Municipality, Overstrand Local Municipality, Plettenbergbaai Local Municipality, Potchefstroom Local Municipality, Randfontein Local Municipality, Richtersveld Local Municipality, Saldanha Bay Local Municipality, Sol Plaatjie Local Municipality, Stellenbosch Local Municipality, Swartland Local Municipality, Swellendam Local Municipality, Theewaterskloof Local Municipality, Umdoni Local Municipality, uMhlathuze Local Municipality and Witzenberg Local Municipality.

Area B includes all those areas not mentioned in Area A.

Read: How much you need to pay your domestic worker with the new national minimum wage

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South Africa added 45,000 domestic workers to the economy last quarter