SA factories drive job growth despite record load shedding

South Africa’s energy-intensive manufacturing sector was the biggest driver of job growth in the third quarter despite record power outages.

The number of people employed by manufacturers rose by 123 000 to 1.63 million in the three months through September, Statistics South Africa said in a report released Tuesday in the capital, Pretoria. The official unemployment rate declined to 32.9%, the third highest on a global list of 82 countries and the eurozone monitored by Bloomberg.

Formal sector manufacturers of basic metals, food, beverages and tobacco products, and wood and wood products added the most jobs in the third quarter, Desiree Manamela, acting chief director for labour statistics, said in an interview. Textile, clothing and leather goods makers in the informal sector also created jobs, she said.

Jobs in the sector grew even as Eskom, which produces most of the nation’s electricity, imposed power outages on more than half of the days in the third quarter, leading to a record 173 days of blackouts so far in 2022, according to Bloomberg calculations.

Output from the manufacturing sector, which accounts for about 13% of gross domestic product, was better than expected in the third quarter, according to data published earlier this month. A gauge measuring factory sentiment due Thursday will provide clues on the industry’s performance in the final three months of 2022.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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