New data shows that labour market conditions in South Africa have improved following the economic crisis as the number of employed persons increased between 2008 and 2014 from 14.6 million to 15.1 million.
However, the number of unemployed persons increased from 4.3 million to 5.1 million, resulting in an increase in the unemployment rate from 22.5% in 2008 to 25.1% in 2014.
In addition, the absorption rate in 2014 at 42,8% was still 3.1 percentage points below the peak reached in 2008, according to a report: Labour Market Dynamics in South Africa, 2014, compiled by StatsSA.
Over the period 2008 to 2014, employment levels in the formal sector increased by 739,000 to 10.8 million in 2014, while in the informal sector employment was virtually unchanged at 2.4 million (up 13, 000 jobs since 2008).
The number of underemployed persons declined from 651,000 in 2008 to 602,000 in 2014 as the number of employed increased by 504,000 to 15,1 million in 2014.
Young vs old
The report found that young people in South Africa continue to face a number of obstacles; their unemployment rate is double that of adults, while they are more likely to have limited or no previous work experience, which reduces their chances of finding employment.
In 2014, 51.7% of young people aged 15-34 had never worked before; in addition, 31.3% of young people were not in education, employment or training (NEET).
Between 2008 and 2014, the average weekly hours worked declined from 45 to 43 hours.
While the share of employees working excessive hours declined, men were more likely to work excessive hours than women.
Gender disparities continue to exist in terms of access to benefits. Despite rising for both men and women, a higher proportion of male employees were entitled to paid sick leave.
The proportion of employees who had access to pension/retirement fund contributions by their employer increased from 45.5% in 2008 to 48.9% in 2014, while access was higher among male employees relative to female employees, the report said.
The report highlighted the provincial transition rates into employment for those without a job. Over the period 2010 to 2014, the transition rate into employment for adults was higher than that of youth.
Nationally, the youth transition rate into employment increased by 1.2 of a percentage point from 4.0% in 2010 to 5,2% in 2014.
A decline in youth transition rates into employment was observed in Western Cape (0.4 of a percentage point) and Northern Cape (2.9 percentage points) with the largest increases found in Gauteng (3.1 percentage points ) and Mpumalanga (1.5 percentage points).
In 2014 the highest transition rate into employment among adults was observed in Mpumalanga (10.8%).
And similar to youth, among adults, Mpumalanga had the largest increase in the transition rate in to employment (up by 4.5 percentage points), followed by Free State (4.2 percentage points).
The transition rate into employment among adults increased in all provinces except Eastern Cape (2.6% ), Western Cape (1.3%) and Limpopo (0.9%)
StatsSA pointed out that work experience improves the transition rate in to employment for those without jobs. The transition rate into employment for persons with work experience is at least three times that of persons without prior work experience.
In 2014, Mpumalanga had the highest transition rates into employment among those with out prior work experience.
Between 2010 and 2014, the highest increase in the provincial transition rate among those persons with out prior work experience was observed in Gauteng (2.2 percentage points).
Over the same period, the declines in the rate among persons without work experience occurred in Northern Cape (2.6 percentage points) and Western Cape (1.0 percentage point).
Gauteng and Western Cape lead earnings
The report said that median monthly earnings for the employed is highest in Gauteng and the Western Cape.
The median monthly earnings in Gauteng amounted to R4,333 a month, with the poverty line at R523. In the Western Cape, the median earnings are R3,423 with a poverty line at R545.
The national poverty line is R501 and median earnings are R3,033.