SA shows trend of rising informal employment: Stats SA

23 February 2021 - 15:49
The ranks of the informally employed are swelling, says Statistics SA. File photo.
The ranks of the informally employed are swelling, says Statistics SA. File photo.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/The Sunday Times.

SA, like many other African economies, has shown an increasing trend of informal employment, a report by Stats SA showed on Tuesday.

The report showed that informal employment grew by 754,000 jobs — from 4.2 million jobs in 2013 to five million in 2019.

This accounted for almost a third of total employment.

During 2013 and 2019, the formal sector accounted for 71.2% and 68.5% respectively, of a percentage of total employment, while the informal sector increased by 2.8 percentage points from 15.3% to 18.3%.

Participation of males in the informal employment sector was more dominant than that of females. Males recorded an increase from 52.3% in 2013 to 56.2% in 2019. Female representation in informal employment was 47.7% in 2013 and 43.8% in 2019.

The report is based on secondary data analysis of Stats SA's Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) of the third quarter of 2013 and that of the third quarter of 2019 as well as the Survey of Employers and the Self-employed.

The report said Gauteng had the most informal employment at 26% in 2013, followed by KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo at 19.8% and 12% respectively.

The same trend continued in 2019 where the three provinces dominated.

The majority of males were employed in semi-skilled occupations at 52.9% in 2013, increasing to 56% in 2019. In contrast,  about six out of 10 females in informal employment were in low-skilled occupations as compared to their male counterparts, recording 62.3% in 2013 and 61.3% in 2019.

The report grouped 11 occupation categories into three main groups, namely, highly skilled, semi-skilled and low-skilled.

High-skilled occupations comprises managers, professionals and technicians; semi-skilled occupations included clerks, sales and services, crafts and related trade, plant and machine operators; and low-skilled occupations comprises elementary and domestic work.

The disparities between males and females occupying high-skilled positions narrowed between 2013 and 2019.

Stats SA said this indicated more participation of females in informal employment in the highly skilled occupations and therefore a move towards parity. Figures showed that 9.4% of males were employed in high-skilled occupations in 2013, compared to 7.2% of females during the same period.

In 2019, 7.6% of males were employed in high-skilled occupations while 7.1% of females were employed in these occupations during the same period.

“When looking at the gender parity ratios for both years of reporting, the disparities between males and females occupying high-skilled positions narrowed ... in 2019 indicating more participation of females in informal employment in the highly skilled occupations and therefore a move towards parity,” the report said.

Nine in 10 people (88.8% in 2013 and 90.7% in 2017) running informal businesses were black African people, followed by white people (5.5%), Indian/Asian people (3.1%) and coloured people (2.5%).

More than 60% of people running informal businesses did not have a matric.

The report said the majority of those who could not be absorbed in the formal economy due to lack of education got absorbed into the informal economy.

“On average, less than 10% of people who possess tertiary qualifications were running informal businesses.”

TimesLIVE


X