HOPEFUL: Unemployed Christopher Forishi, 28, and Sylvester Dube, 24, wait outside the Blue Valley estate in Midrand to be picked up for casual day jobs. Picture: HERBERT MATIMBA
Labour broking specialist Adcorp has raised the ire of mainstream economic thinkers with its suggestion that informal unemployment has actually emerged into the engine room of job creation.
The firm released its Adcorp Employment Index on Monday saying the economy created 80 000 new jobs in January 2012 which represent annualised growth of 5% when compared to the previous month, December last year.
The Adcorp announcement came a week after Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) released its employment figures. These showed the economy creating close to 200 000 jobs in the last quarter of last year, leading to a marginal decline in the country’s unemployment rate from 25% to 23.9%.
Loan Sharp, Adcorp labour economist, said although 80 000 jobs have been created, the economy is still 420 000 jobs short of the peak employment level prior to the 2009 global financial crisis.
The index revealed that all employment contract types reported gains, with temporary work showing 7.1% growth, agency work 8.0%. Wholesale and retail trade recorded 13.6% increase, transport and logistics 8.8% and government 3.1%. Sharp said temporary work now represents 3.87 million workers or 30.1% of the workforce in South Africa.
According to the report, all occupational categories reported growth in employment, but high-skilled categories (management and professionals) reported the strongest growth of 4.7%, “reflecting the economy’s ongoing reorientation toward high-skilled positions”.
Eskom chief economist, Mandla Maleka, said the Adcorp figures were questionable. “The only convincing figures relating to employment are those provided by Statistics South Africa in terms of methodology they use to gather data following international standard regulations.
“It is better for the public to follow numbers with international integrity where constant revision of methodology is applied,” Maleka warned.
Chris Malekane, associate professor in the economics department at Wits University and also a Cosatu economist, said: “If Adcorp’s findings are different to that of Stats SA, who must be trusted? We must trust those scientifically tested. No one will ever take Adcorp statistics seriously because they are doing this for money, nothing else,” warned Malekane.
Cosatu has labelled Adcorp figures as ideological propaganda designed to clear the field for labour brokers.
Sharp also said over the past decade, two important personal income trends have emerged in South Africa. Average inflation incomes rose sharply, from R44 431 a year in 2000 to R61 645 last year, a real increase of 39% or 3.3% a year.
He said income inequality between blacks and whites declined sharply.
“In 2000, the average black South African earned 1.5% of the average white South African’s income, whereas last year, a typical black person earned 40% of a typical white person’s income.
“Currently 1.3 million blacks (14% of the black workforce) earn more than their average white counterparts, up from R270 000 in 2000 to more than R1m,” said Sharp.
This means that 14% of the black workforce has on average experienced a 378% income increase.
To a great extent, Sharp observed that the improvement in black incomes has been associated with the civil service.
“Over the past decade, the government employment has increased from one million to 1.24 million, and the proportion of blacks in the civil service has increased from 42% to 74%.
“As a result, nearly 40% of South Africa’s highest-earning blacks are employees of the South African government.
“Partly this is associated with trade unionisation, which is currently 70% of the public sector workforce belongs to a trade union, compared to 26% for the private sector,” Sharp said in an interview.