Industry sectors
  • The employment outlook in South Africa for the next three months is not pretty, according to a new survey of hiring intentions.
  • But there are a couple of industries where companies expect to be adding some new jobs between July and September.
  • The third quarter could be a good time to be in finance and real estate, and the restaurant and hotel sector is also bullish.

South African companies generally don't plan to be hiring more people in the coming quarter, between July and September, according to the ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey released on Tuesday.

Compared to this time in 2018, the number of companies that intend to add to their payrolls declined two percentage points, the survey of 752 employers of different sizes across the country showed.

But employment prospects differ considerably across provinces – and across industries.

See also: These are the South African provinces where employers will be hiring in the next three months – and you don’t want to be job-hunting in the Free State

Half of the industry sectors ManpowerGroup tracks recorded weaker hiring intentions than in the previous quarter, with two sectors showing big drops: construction, and agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing.

The construction sector also showed a considerably smaller appetite for hiring people when compared on a year-on-year basis, and there were also big declines in transport, storage and communications as well as in electricity, gas, and water compared to 2018.

Here are the South African industries that plan to hire – and don't plan to hire – more people between July and September.

Finance, insurance, and real estate: +12%

The banking and business services sector keeps intending to hire more people – with companies intending to add jobs increasing three percentage points compared to the previous year, and hiring intentions staying stable at a net 12% on a quarter-to-quarter basis.

Once seasonally adjusted, the finance sector remains the most bullish, with 11% of companies expecting to employ more people.


Public and social: +7%

The public sector remains unworried about economic conditions. At a net 7% of employers intending to hire more people – with no seasonal adjustment – the outlook for this field is stable quarter-on-quarter, and up three percentage points year-on-year.


Restaurants and hotels: +4%

South African tourism has had a torrid time of it between visa trouble and the drought in the Western Cape. But a net of 4% of companies in the sector intend to hire people in the third quarter of 2019 – and adjusted seasonally that number jumps to 10%, second only to the finance sector.

That represents a four percentage point increase on this time in 2018 – and a startling 14 percentage points more than in the second quarter of 2019, when hiring expectations in hospitality were lower than at any time since 2013.


Electricity, gas, and water supply +4%

The energy and utility sector saw a net of 4% of respondents say they plan to hire more people between July and September, and that drops by only one percentage point when adjusted for the season.

Although that makes the sector the fourth most likely to be adding new jobs, hiring prospects are down sharply on a year-on-year basis, at nine percentage points weaker.


Mining & quarrying: +2%

Like manufacturing and the wholesale and retail sector, a net 2% of those in mining expect to be adding jobs in Q3 2019, but that jumps to 4% when corrected for seasonal variation.

That is stable compared to a year ago, but down two percentage points since Q2, which was down compared to a first quarter that was more optimistic than any time since 2014.


Manufacturing: +2%

In manufacturing the seasonally-adjusted expectation is that a net of 3% of employers will be adding jobs, or 2% before adjustment.

That is stable quarter-on-quarter, but up by two percentage points since the same time in 2018.


Wholesale and retail trade: +2%

Much like manufacturing, 2% of companies that sell retail or wholesale expect to be hiring more people between July and September, or 3% once seasonally adjusted. 

After relatively good prospects for job-seekers since the end of 2018, that is down six percentage points compared to April through June, and down two percentage points compared to Q3 of 2018.


Transport, storage and communication: 0%

Although there are two sectors with worse outlooks, the transport and communications industries reported their worst outlook for hiring in two years.

On a net basis nobody in those industries expects to be hiring any new people, but that improves to 4% once seasonally adjusted.

Even once adjusted, however, that number is down 16 percentage points since the third quarter or 2018.


Agriculture, forestry, and fishing: -2%

A net of 2% of employers in the business of food and wood say they will be reducing jobs rather than hiring in the next three months. Once adjusted for the season – in a very seasonal sector – that improves to 7% of companies hiring, putting the sector on par with the public service. 

That is stable compared to a year ago, but down nine percentage points since Q2 of 2019.


Construction: -9%

Companies in the construction business – or those companies still standing after the recent bloodbath – do not seem to expect things to improve for them in the near term. In the coming three months a net of 9% of construction firms expect to be reducing headcount, and that number remains at a negative 8% when adjusted for the season. 

That is down nine percentage points compared to the surprisingly optimistic previous quarter of 2019.

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