The Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) results show that number of employees working in businesses increased by 38 thousand – from 8 457 000 in the third quarter of 2013 to 8 495 000 in the fourth quarter. This was driven by an increase of 35 000 in the Trade industry and increases in the Community and social services and Manufacturing industries of 14 000 and 2 000 respectively. There were also modest quarterly gains in the Transport and Finance industries (each up by 1 000). In contrast, employment declined in Mining by 8 000 and Construction by 7 000.

Year-on-year employment gains totalled 39 000. The largest gains were in Community and social services (up by 45 000) and Trade (up by 22 000). And compared to a year earlier, the fourth quarter 2013 results show that employment in Mining fell by 16 000 – the largest annual decline across the industries.

Gross earnings paid to employees during the quarter ended December 2013 amounted to R422 676 million. This reflected a quarterly increase of R24 563 million (up by 6,2%) compared with the previous quarter and an annual increase of R30 244 million (up by 7,7%) compared with the quarter ended December 2012.

The levels of employment based on the QES sometimes differ from the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS). This is a situation experienced by other countries such as the USA which also conducts two surveys that provide employment data. There are several reasons for the differences. The QES only gets information from VAT registered businesses with a turnover greater than R300 000 in the formal sector (excluding agriculture). On the other hand, the QLFS includes information about people who are employed in both the formal and informal sector as well as those employed in agriculture and private households. Another important source of the higher employment figures from the QLFS is that it includes information about small businesses that are excluded from the QES altogether. The higher employment numbers in the QLFS also reflect differences in the reference period used in the two surveys.

Against this background, comparison of the results of the two surveys should be undertaken with caution. It is possible to exclude from the QLFS results, employees engaged in Private households, those employed in Agriculture and those who are employed in the informal sector. However, it is not possible to isolate employees who work in VAT registered businesses from the QLFS results. This makes the comparison of the results of the two surveys difficult.