Over 8, 000 jobs created in March, December 2009

Staff Writer
Close to 9, 000 jobs were created in the economy between March and December 2009, underlining the resilience of the private sector and vindicating government's budgetary support during last year's recession.

The latest official data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) indicates that the private and parastatal sectors grew by 4, 665 jobs between March and December last year.

The data indicates growth was registered in sectors like Construction and Manufacturing, Wholesale and Retail Trade as well as Real Estate, all of which directly or indirectly benefited from the government's P10.6 billion development budget in 2009/10.

The CSO statistics show that in March 2009, the private sector had 50.3 percent of total paid jobs in the economy, with the figure rising to 60 percent by December. During the two periods, central and local government also swelled by 3, 392 and 871 jobs respectively. The latest statistics echo statements made by the World Bank in July when it raised Botswana's growth prospects to 8.4 percent for 2010.

The World Bank said the higher growth prospects were partly "due to the use of counter-cyclical fiscal policy as was done in running a P13.4 billion deficit".

Combined with warming global business conditions, part of Government's support to the economy last year led to stronger sectoral performances in 2010, higher growth expectations and less shocks to labour.

The CSO data also mirrors official figures showing that GDP fell sharply in the first quarter of 2009 before generally rising to 10 percent in

the fourth quarter.

While a cursory analysis of the CSO's latest figures indicates that the economy lost more than 26, 000 jobs between March and December 2009, further examination shows that the jobs lost were all in the Ipelegeng programme, the government's seasonal casual labour initiative.

The Ipelegeng programme declined from 66, 806 workers in March 2009 to 31, 164 by December, effectively dropping by 53 percent. The programme is aimed at short-term employment support and relief while simultaneously carrying out the government's identified development projects.

"Overall employment decreased by 1.1 percent between September and December 2009," the CSO says. "Ipelegeng programme continues to go down, contributing to a reduction in local government employment by 10.2 percent and therefore overall employment.

"It should be noted that the Ipelegeng programme is seasonal, hence high fluctuations in the number employed from quarter to quarter. The reduction in the fourth quarter of 2009 could be due to less Ipelegeng projects undertaken to allow individuals to engage in arable farming activities."

CSO officials explained that it was difficult to establish total formal sector labour statistics in 2009 as quarterly formal sector studies only commenced last year. Prior to this, the CSO conducted biannual studies in March and September, meaning that formal sector statistics for December 2008 are unavailable.



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