More money for skills

By Staff Writer

The Times Online

by Robert Laing

Employers have responded to the skills crisis with hefty pay increases,
quarterly employment statistics for the last three months of last year
indicate.

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Though the number of formal jobs increased by only0.8percent to
8.4million people between September and December, the national wage bill
jumped 9.6percent.

The biggest skills shortage seems to be in the electricity, gas and water
supply industry, in which the average November wage rose by more than 15
percent to R16 677 compared to November 2006.

Utility workers were already the highest earners before their pay rises.

The next fastest growing wages were in the lowest paid sector, construction.

The average wage went up nearly 14percent to R5828, including overtime, in
November.

Nearly a quarter of formerly employed South Africans are in what Stats SA
terms the "community, social and personal services industry" - essentially,
government employees.

This sector accounted for 24.6percent of the 65000 new formal-sector jobs
created during the fourth quarter.

A third of the new jobs were created by the second-biggest employer, the
financial intermediation, insurance, real estate and business services
industry.

Sixty percent of new jobs were for sales and hospitality positions.

A further 7000 manufacturing jobs were lost in the final quarter of last
year, bringing the year's loss of factory jobs to 22000.

The number of mining jobs was unchanged despite the commodities boom.

Job losses due to Eskom's inability to supply sufficient power will appear
in Stats SA's next quarterly report.

Stats SA also released its bi-annual labour force study yesterday.

This set the official unemployment rate at 23percent in September, continuing
a steady decline from 2002, when it was 30.4percent.

But the decline in unemploynebt was offset by the rising number of discouraged job seekers.

People are counted as unemployed only if they are actively looking for a job.

The labour absorption rate is dangerously low, but Stats SA found it had
improved to 43.5percent last year, from 42.7percent in 2006.

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