Job Quality in South Africa: A Proposed Index for Ongoing Monitoring of Job Quality

While employment—or the quantity of jobs—is measured regularly in South Africa, the quality of those jobs is not, making it difficult to assess how job quality has evolved over time. This paper proposes a simple job quality index using the Quarterly Labour Force Survey data that can be readily updated on an ongoing basis as new data becomes available. The index covers four dimensions of job quality, namely wages; benefits and employment security; working time and work-life balance; and representation and voice. Dimensions of job quality are equally weighted within the overall index, while indicators are equally weighted within each dimension. Using this index, we find that job quality declined over the 2011-2017 period, driven by deterioration in the average scores on the dimensions of wages and representation and voice. Unfortunately, the Quarterly Labour Force Surveys do not collect data on working conditions or on aspects of skills and career development, and these two dimensions are not included within the index. In order to measure job quality comprehensively, nationally representative surveys would need to be expanded to collect (additional) data on working conditions, access to training, work-life balance, and prospects for career development, amongst others.