December employment figures released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) were looking more realistic than November's figures, economists said yesterday.
Last month economists contested November employment stats, saying they were not reflective of the current environment. The November stats showed a decline of six percent in unemployment, compared to the previous quarter.
Stats SA reported an increase of more than 100000 employees in South Africa's job market by December 2008 compared to the previous year.
The Quarterly Employment Statistics for December show an increase of 0.3percent in the number of formal jobs amounting to about 23000 jobs.
T-Sec economist Mike Schussler said there was a trend which showed that the private sector was shedding jobs while there was an increase of jobs in government and this was unsustainable.
"Government jobs rely on tax, which is largely obtained from the private sector.
"Now, if there are job losses in the private sector, the government's increase in workforce will be unsustainable in the long run".
Schussler noted that the decline in the average monthly earnings, including bonuses and overtime payments, paid to employees between August and November 2008 showed that there was an economic crisis.
He said the employment statistics for January and February 2009 would reflect a lot of job losses, which took place at the beginning of the year.
"There will be lots more job losses this year," he said.
The manufacturing industry reported an annual decrease of 35000 jobs in December last year compared to the previous period in 2007.
Mziwakhe Hlangani, national spokesperson of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, which represents workers in the hardest hit manufacturing sector, said government really needed to provide rescue packages to companies.