By Bonnie Modiakgotla
Botswana’s jobless economic growth continues to play itself out as evidenced by the snail pace it has been adding jobs. This is highlighted by data from the previous year’s quarterly labour reports.
While labour market data for 2018 fourth quarter is yet to be released, Statistics Botswana last month released third quarter formal sector employment figures which covers July to September 2018 data.
The latest employment data estimates the number of employed people to be 417,162, up by 1 percent from 2018’s second quarter. The slight increase was on the back of new 3976 jobs added to the economy.
However, the 1 percent increase in employment translate to 0.7 percent growth when Ipelegeng workers are excluded. Without the 69, 805 Ipelegeng workers – whose contracts are seasonal – total employment figure is at 344,947.
The third quarter labour statistics showed strong performance compared to the previous two quarters of 2018. In the first quarter, the economy started off on a weaker footing, adding about 363 jobs ÔÇô a paltry 0.1 percent from 2017 fourth quarter. The job market showed signs of improvement in second quarter, this time adding about 2,494 jobs ÔÇô a slight 0.6 percent growth.
This means in the first 9 months of 2018, Botswana’s economy could only add about 6,833 jobs. The economy itself started the year on the low ÔÇô 2018’s first quarter Gross Domestic Product declined by 1.6 percent before picking up by 2.5 percent in the second quarter, and grew only 0.5 percent in the third quarter.
According to Statistics Botswana’s latest formal sector employment figures, the number of citizen workers has been in decline since the beginning of 2018. In the first quarter, there were about 11,582 non-citizen workers, and this figure fell by 1.6 percent in the second, before plunging again in the third quarter, ending with about 10, 544 foreign workers employed.
Furthermore, the current labour statistics reveal that not only are jobs added at a painstakingly low rate, but also the wages growth has been sluggish. Without including Ipelegeng workers, average earnings for both citizens and non-citizens in 2018 first quarter was down 0.1 percent to P7,330, followed by a small increase of 3.5 percent to 7, 590 and by the third quarter, the average earnings was P7,509, down by 1.1 percent.