Business confidence continues slide into fourth quarter

South African drop shipping business confidence fell to the lowest level since the country lost its investment-grade credit rating, as political and policy uncertainty continue to weigh on sentiment.

The gauge dropped to 31 in the fourth quarter from a revised 34 in the previous three months, FirstRand Ltd.’s Rand Merchant Bank division and the University of Stellenbosch’s Bureau for Economic Research said in an emailed statement Tuesday.

Confidence is now at the lowest level since the second quarter of 2017, when former President Jacob Zuma’s move to fire Pravin Gordhan as finance minister saw the country’s debt cut to junk by S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings Ltd. While Cyril Ramaphosa’s ascent to the presidency boosted business confidence earlier this year, sentiment has since cooled and the rand reversed all the gains that came on the back of the change in leadership.

The ruling African National Congress’s decision to change the constitution to make it easier to expropriate land without compensation added to policy uncertainty, even as Ramaphosa’s moves to change some key ministers and the management of state companies such as Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. were seen as positive steps. The mid-term budget last month painted a bleak picture of the nation’s finances, with government debt peaking at higher levels, and two years later, than previously forecast.

The index level shows that seven of every 10 respondents are unhappy with prevailing business conditions, RMB said.

“The reality is a multitude of political and policy issues, chief among them being the uncertainty around the government’s land-reform plans, continue to weigh down on confidence,” Ettienne le Roux, chief economist at RMB, said in the statement. “Unless these are resolved in a more speedily and concrete fashion, private-sector fixed investment, and by implication, economic growth will remain disappointingly low.”

In addition to the fourth quarter results, this release incorporates the outcome of some data revisions and survey improvements. On occasion, the BER updates, among other things, its surveys’ sector weights to reflect structural changes in the economy. To maintain a consistent time series, historical data also get revised. In the main, revisions have been small and historical trends have broadly stayed the same. A brief note at the end of this release gives more detail about the methodology and changes which have occurred.

The fourth quarter survey was conducted between 31 October and 19 November. The fieldwork was therefore completed before the 25-basis point interest rate hike of last week, the cabinet reshuffle and “Black Friday” promotion sales. The survey covered 1,700 business people in the five cyclically-most-sensitive sectors of the economy i.e. building, manufacturing, retail, wholesale and new vehicle trade.


In terms of the five sectors making up the RMB/BER BCI, sentiment deteriorated in two (motor trade and building) and increased in three (manufacturing, retail, wholesale and dropshipping trade) during the fourth quarter.

Confidence among new vehicle dealers declined by the largest margin (22 points), and at 15 it is the lowest of all the sectors surveyed. The drop in confidence can almost entirely be attributed to an unexpected (and considerable) further deterioration in sales volumes.

After rising from 37 to 44 in the third quarter, building contractor confidence fell back to 32 as previous expectations of improved activity in especially the residential sector failed to materialise. The fourth quarter’s reading of lower confidence is consistent with continued weakness in both residential and non-residential building activity.

Of all the sectors, retail trade registered the biggest improvement in sentiment, with its BCI rebounding from 23 in the third quarter, to a still low 33 in the fourth quarter. Even before “Black Friday”, sales volumes improved a little with retailers of durable goods (such as furniture, appliances and electronic goods) continuing to do better than most other retailers, especially those selling new cars which have seen volumes plunge.

Manufacturing confidence increased slightly from 26 in the third quarter to 30 during the survey quarter. While domestic as well as export sales volumes showed some signs of life, improvements were moderate. Similarly, production output only increased a bit.

Somewhat better sales of both consumer and non-consumer goods boosted wholesale confidence from 40 to 44 in the fourth quarter.

Bottom line

Even though improvements have been modest, it’s nonetheless encouraging to see confidence having risen in three out of the five sectors surveyed. In fact, if it wasn’t for the unusually large drop in new vehicle dealer confidence, the RMB/BER BCI would have risen for the first time in almost a year. Yet, concerns continue to linger; in aggregate, seven out of every 10 respondents remain unhappy with prevailing business conditions, while confidence continues to track below the neutral-50 mark in all the sectors.

“While President Ramaphosa’s refreshing new focus on public-private-sector partnerships is welcome, the reality is, a multitude of political and policy issues (chief amongst which is the uncertainty around the government’s land reform plans), continue to weigh down on confidence. Unless these are resolved in a more speedily and concrete fashion, private sector fixed investment, and by implication, economic growth will remain disappointingly low. Time is running out as global headwinds are mounting and domestically inflation as well as policy interest rates have bottomed” said Ettienne Le Roux, chief economist at RMB.

Annual survey reports that Thanksgiving dinner price has gone up 18 percent

The 2018 Market Basket Survey reveals a nearly 18 percent price increase for the average Thanksgiving Day dinner over last year’s meal.

The average total price this year, which includes a 16-pound turkey, is $54.53. This is a $9.79 increase over last year’s survey of $44.74, much of that attributed to higher turkey prices.

Turkey prices are about $1.86 per pound in New York state, up 28 percent on average in this informal survey compared to 2017. Prices found by shoppers in the survey ranged from $1.48/lb. to $2.49/lb. This price increase is steeper than the national numbers which saw wholesale dropshippers who offering turkey prices remain stable over last year’s number, coming in at $1.36/lb. The higher price may be attributed to the timing of New York’s survey compared to those in other states. As Thanksgiving gets closer, turkey prices have been dropping, reflecting the large supply of turkeys in the country.

The New York numbers did show price decreases from the previous year in other categories including for a gallon of milk, fresh carrots, cranberries and Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Mix. There has been a rebound in pumpkin supply following a low three years ago. In addition, milk prices have remained low throughout 2018, part of a four-year down cycle.

New to this year’s survey was the average price for a four-pound ham, five-pound bag of russet potatoes and a package of frozen green beans. This reflects more diversity in traditional Thanksgiving meals and will be included going forward in the annual New York Farm Bureau Market Basket Survey.

Despite the overall price increase in this year’s survey, the meal remains affordable, with a price point of little more than five dollars per person for a 10-person meal. The affordability of a classic Thanksgiving meal demonstrates that although farmers and ranchers are struggling with challenging commodity prices, consumers ultimately benefit from lower retail prices.

“While we saw an uptick in price for this year’s informal survey, it still reflects an affordable dinner for families to enjoy this holiday. Food remains reasonably priced in this country, in large part, due to the efficiency and hard work of our farmers. We should all give thanks to the men and women in New York who give their all to put food on our Thanksgiving tables,” said Phyllis Couture, Chair of New York Farm Bureau’s Promotion and Education Committee.

New York Farm Bureau’s volunteer dropshipping suppliers usa shoppers and sampled prices in different regions of the state trying to get the best prices available, but they do not use promotional coupons or special deals such as “buy one get one free.” The shopping list includes 15 Thanksgiving food items ranging from turkey and rolls to stuffing and celery to pumpkin pie mix, enough to feed 10 people around the dinner table. The 2018 Thanksgiving survey displayed considerable price variation across the state as well as within districts. No district had the highest or lowest in every category. The best advice is to compare prices to save money. The numbers below reflect the overall average of the volunteer shoppers.

Entrepreneurs explore commercial potential of Yiwu-Madrid train line

At a forum held on Monday in the Spanish capital, Chinese and Spanish businesspeople jointly explored the export and import potential arising from the train line between Yiwu and Madrid.

The Yiwu-Madrid freight route links Zhejiang’s Yiwu, the world’s largest wholesale accessory market for small consumer goods, with the European commodity center of Madrid by way of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Dubbed Yixin’ou in Chinese (Yiwu-Xinjiang-Europe), the 13,052-kilometer line is the longest train route in the world. With travel time one-third of shipping via sea and cost one-fifth that of air freight, it has stimulated the local import and export business.

“The Spaniards have brought their manufactures and Yiwu entrepreneurs are very interested in buying them, which is why we are here, to accelerate, promote and visualize the massive exchange between both parties,” president of the Foundation for the Exchange between Madrid and Yiwu, Mao Wenjin, told Xinhua.

Fu Chunming, deputy secretary of the standing committee of the Municipal People’s Congress of Yiwu, said Yiwu is the largest commodity market in the world, and it sometimes causes a trade imbalance with Madrid.

The Yiwu Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum was co-organized by the Yiwu city government and the Mayor of Madrid. It brought together Spanish companies that showcased their products and Chinese importers interested in bringing to dropshipping China items such as cosmetics, ham, wine and olive oil.

“Yiwu has already noticed the problem of imbalance in import and export, and we will expand imports from Spain and we will make the trains return full,” he said.

He also highlighted the importance of the train line between the Chinese city and the Spanish capital.

“We used to say that Yiwu is the starting point for the China-Europe freight train, but Madrid can also become that of China’s imports, with nearly 1.4 billion Chinese consumers buying quality products from Spain,” Fu Chunming said.

The general coordinator of the Mayor’s Office of Madrid, Luis Cueto, highlighted the importance of “understanding the Chinese culture” and the way they do things.

“Over the last four years since the inauguration of this train line which works as a cultural messenger, the two parties have been getting closer and closer,” he said.

Director of the Asian Office of the Spanish Institute of Foreign Trade (ICEX), Alicia Tamames, said that China is the seventh largest investor in Spain, with a bet of more than 11 billion euros (12.6 billion U.S. dollars). A total of 150 Chinese companies have invested in Spain and have created some 15,000 jobs.

She also said China is the twenty-fourth destination of Spanish investment with more than 3.1 billion euros and that there are more than 600 Spanish companies in the Asian country that have created 30,674 jobs.

“Investments will continue to increase, in Spain, in Europe and in the world, and China’s potential for investment abroad is enormous, and I believe that in the case of Spain, it will increase especially in very important sectors to cover demand of the growing middle class in China,” Tamames said.

She also said that most of the investments would go to emblematic products of Spanish trade, such as agri-food and consumer goods.

“These are sectors that are going to be important and of interest for Chinese companies that want to acquire brands and products with quality, prestige and design,” Tamames said.

The train between Madrid and Yiwu travels twice a week and both countries export different products.

In the case of China, the range is wider and has more than 2,000 products, but goods that leave Madrid mainly belong to the agri-food sector, namely oil, ham or wine.

How Tencent is trying to protect its future

Tencent has reported better-than-expected financial and operational results for the third quarter, prompting investors in the Chinese social media and gaming giant to heave a huge sigh of relief.

Looking at the numbers, one can assume that the management is making significant progress in shifting the company’s focus from the embattled game business to two new key drivers, the payment business and cloud services.

Payments and cloud, if the momentum is not let up, can well serve as bedrock for Tencent to transform itself from a mass-market focused internet firm to a platform enabling industrial internet to support China’s economy.

Tencent’s profit in the three months to September was up 30 percent to 23.3 billion yuan, beating average analyst projection of 19.3 billion, helped in part by investment gains.

Non-GAPP profit, stripping one-time items, rose 15 percent from a year earlier to 19.7 billion yuan, according to the figures released on Wednesday.

Revenue expanded 24 percent to 80.6 billion yuan, though it marked the slowest quarterly growth in more than three years, as Reuters noted.

In the second quarter, the Shenzhen-headquartered firm recorded its first profit fall in 13 years, shocking investors as it announced in August a 2 percent decline in net income for the period.

The dismal result came after Chinese regulators froze new game approvals as they sought to curb online game addiction among the youth.

With no clarity on when the curbs will be eased, Tencent has been making an effort to reduce its reliance on the game business and focus on other promising internet services.

A major business revamp was announced recently in a move aimed at capturing opportunities in cloud and industrial internet services in areas that include fintech, healthcare and transportation.

In the third quarter, Tencent saw its online advertising and other business revenue growing at a hefty double-digit pace. Though “value-added services”, which include the game business, still accounted for 55 percent of the company’s revenue in July-September, online advertising and other businesses managed to expand their share of the total income.

If the ad and other businesses maintain strong double-digit growth going forward, they could well generate half of Tencent’s revenue in the not too distant future.

“Other” business revenue recorded 69 percent year-on-year growth to 20 billion yuan in the September quarter, with the main contribution coming from payment-related services and cloud.

Cloud services revenues more than doubled from a year earlier and grew at a double-digit percentage rate from the preceding three months. For the first nine months of 2018, cloud revenues topped 6 billion yuan.

WeChat Pay emerged as a market leader in China’s mobile payment space, even as it competes with Alibaba affiliate Alipay. Tencent said it had maintained its leadership in China’s mobile payment market in terms of monthly active users and daily active users.

The daily transaction volume increased over 50 percent year-on-year, within which the offline daily commercial payment transaction volume grew 200 percent.

Tencent said it had strengthened its payment infrastructure to ensure safer and more convenient payment services.

WeChat Pay has been aggressively rolling out its services among chinese wholesale websites as well as some overseas markets. The company was the first to roll out cross-border payment between Hong Kong and China through financial technologies.

Users of WeChat Pay do not need to switch their mobile wallet version for payment when they are not in their home market. That should help WeChat Pay gain market share from Alipay, especially when it comes to frequent cross-border travellers.

Another bright spot for Tencent has been its wealth management, micro-loans and insurance businesses. LiCaiTong, Tencent’s wealth management platform, added pension funds to its fund offering, and its aggregated customer assets surpassed 500 billion yuan as of end-September.

WeBank’s WeiLiDai short-term loans service saw its loan balances grow rapidly while the non-performing loan rate remained at below-industry level, benefiting from advanced risk prediction models and user targeting, the company noted.

Tencent, no doubt, has been doing a lot of things to shift its revenue dominance from games to other businesses. Mobile payment, advertising and cloud business are clearly the three key pillars for the Chinese internet behemoth’s future development.

Realizing that it needs to look for new ways to protect its growth, Tencent announced this month that it will channel resources into “industrial internet” and help enterprises transform their businesses digitally.

Tencent may take some time before it can adopt a china wholesale shift in mindset and change its business mix in a big way, but it is making the right noises and is also starting to take some action.

The “other” businesses, if pushed in the right way, can help Tencent into a new growth phase, while also serving China’s macro-economic development goals. The political risks will be minimal, unlike the case with the gaming operation.

Investors will certainly welcome such a situation.

Skechers Makes First Wholesale Apparel Line

With more than $4 billion in net sales in 2017 and a fleet of 2,750 stores aross the world—645 of them are company owned—Skechers USA Inc.has been ranked as the second-best-selling sneaker brand in America.

But even with that success, it has been looking for ways to expand and extend its profile. From its headquarters, located in affluent Manhattan Beach, Calif., Skechers came up with the concept for Skechers Apparel, a new wholesale apparel line that was introduced at the Active Collectivetrade show last January in Anaheim, Calif.

About six months before the men’s and women’s wholesale apparel line and wholesale sites was at the trade show, the company hired Lauren Martone to guide it to market. “It feels like a startup,” said Martone, Skechers’ national account manager, apparel. “There’s a lot of firsts happening. We’re working with certain wholesale clients for apparel for the first time. We’re figuring how we want to go to market with them. There’s a lot of passion and energy. There’s a lot on the line. It’s a new piece.”

Along with wholesaling, Skechers Apparel will be rolled out in the company’s 117 concept stores in the United States and made available at the company’s 120 concept stores overseas.

It almost seems to be a requirement that major sports footwear brands expand into apparel. Nike, Adidas and Under Armour all make clothes. Skechers has manufactured some apparel lines in the past, but they weren’t sold to other retailers.

Clothing was added to the running-focused Skechers Performance line in 2014. Some Skechers Performance pieces will be included in the wider Skechers Apparel line.

Like the clothing vendors, Skechers Apparel will offer an extended size range, going from extra small to 3XL. “We want the line to be approachable and wearable,” Martone said. “You are getting the same quality as other popular brands but for a lower price.”

Tops will retail from $26 to $30. Leggings will retail from $44 to $49. Retail price points for jackets will range from $54 to $69.

The apparel line is forecast to appeal to anybody who shops at Skechers. “We’re selling items with multiple end uses. They wear it to run errands, go to yoga, have a nice supper,” Martone said.

Some of the line’s bottoms, such as the “GOWalk” bottom, which is a four-pocket pant, will be cut to specifically go over popular sneakers such as the “GOWalk.”

Skechers is planning to invest in a lot of floor space for its new apparel line, which will occupy as much as 25 percent of the space at the Manhattan Beach concept store. There’s a focus on convenience. “It’s easy to grab and go,” Martone said. “If it’s a hoodie, they can throw it over a shirt. It’s an easy step.”

Some fabrics in the line have branded names. Skechweave is a four-way-stretch woven fabric that is wrinkle resistant. It is used in the “GoWalk Excursion” pant. The Skechluxe is described as a soft, stretchy knit used in the “GoWalk Monsoon” jogger bottom and the “GoEverywhere Hoodigan” sweater. There’s also the Skechtech moisture-wicking poly-blend fabric. The GoKnit Ultra is a double-knit fabric.

Styles include track pants; jogger pants; the “Hoodigan,” which features no buttons or zippers and two pockets in the front; and a men’s jacket called the “Avalon,” which features four pockets in the front and two pockets on the side.

With the expansion of its apparel line, Skechers is also expanding its real estate. The company will be building a 100,000-square-foot showroom and a 20,000-square-foot office building in neighboring Hermosa Beach, Calif. It also is remodeling its Manhattan Beach concept store.

Recently, the company signed a three-year lease for a 365,000-square-foot warehouse in Moreno Valley, Calif., where Skech­ers will expand from its adjacent 1.8 million-square-foot warehouse building.

Leading The Global Tide In Water Sustainability

November 8 is National STEM Day. Across the country, schools and communities recognize today as a time to encourage the scientific and technological curiosity of students and soon-to-be professionals. In this year alone, it is projected that 2.4 million STEM jobs will go unfulfilled. This, along with the stark underrepresentation across the field, is one of the many clarion calls front of mind of the organization I lead, as we work to ensure high school and college students are equipped to enter promising careers.

Jessica Pliska: What sparked your interest in science and technology?

Grant Page: I always had a love for mechanics and engineering. At 14, I was rebuilding engines in my family’s auto shop. When I was 17, I wanted to invent a better way to chrome plate parts because it is such a hazardous process. So, I engineered a set of electrodes that, when salt water ran through them, would remove toxic ions and salt. There was this other time when I was around 16 that I rebuilt a truck because I had a friend who lived about an hour and half drive away. I remember my Dad saying, “Sure, you can take the truck, but you have to pay for the gas.” So, I picked up work here and there—getting trash, washing cars, until I eventually started drop shipping companies usa for electronic goods. It showed me the rewards of an entrepreneurial mindset. But it wasn’t until I was a senior at the Naval Academy did I realize my interest in entrepreneurship could intersect with my passion for tech, innovation and making a difference in the lives of people around the world.

Recently, I had the opportunity to dig into all of this and more with Grant Page, founder, president and CEO of Magna Imperio Systems. Here, we chat about how his company is supporting water recovery efforts around the world in being more environmentally responsible, the innovation lessons he took from his family’s auto shop and how we can empower the next generation of STEM talent.

Pliska: Was there a particular moment at the Naval Academy when you saw that intersection come to life?

Page: At the Academy, I was able to take my technology I invented in high school, reduce it to development and get closer to know about how to start dropshipping, and then start a company to commercialize it worldwide. The Academy’s engineering director came into my lab one night when I was working on a prototype of the electrodes I created to chrome plate in high school and asked me, “Midshipmen Page, do you really know what you’re doing here?” When I asked him what he was getting at it, he responded, “You could change the world.” I went to his office the next day to explore securing patents for the prototype, and that same engineering director ended up being Magna Imperio Systems’ (MIS) first COO.

Pliska: Tell me a bit about your company’s technology.

Page: MIS radically improves the commonly used electrochemical processes for desalinating and treating large bodies of brackish, reclaimed water and even seawater. Many cities, states and companies use various practices to separate salts and other unwanted minerals and substances from water, so the water can be used for human consumption or industrial use. We have taken the electrode engineering I invented in high school and further refined at the Naval Academy to significantly reduce the energy required to perform these processes while improving the process’ overall performance, what we at MIS name Electrochemical Nano Diffusion or END.

How A CSR Pilot Program Became A Key Business Imperative At Tyson Foods

Pliska: Why is creating solutions around water use important to you?

Page: I always wanted to serve in the military and it was through my time serving overseas that I realized the severity of water scarcity and the impact I could have on water conservation. By some estimates, over 1.5 billion people face water scarcity issues that directly threaten their health or economic welfare on a daily basis. The impacts of climate change and global population growth are expected to exacerbate these issues to impact over 2.3 billion people by the year 2050. MIS is dedicated to helping communities across the world access clean and safe water so more and more people are able to lead healthier lives.

Pliska: How has your leadership grown since founding Magna Imperio Systems?

Page: As a younger CEO and founder, I’ve had to work extremely hard to earn the trust of investors, colleagues and clients. I’ve learned a great deal through this process, and at times had to make very difficult decisions on behalf of the company, including one occasion where I was on active military duty in the Middle East during the early months of MIS. The lesson I took from these experiences is the importance of a leader’s instinct, regardless of age, when protecting the mission and vision of a company. Serving in the military gave me such great perspective on gut and strategy, which is directly applicable to my growth as a leader. Since doubling down on MIS’ vision to reimagine healthier water access for vulnerable communities, the company has improved roughly six times in value within the last year. I now know there is tremendous value in leading with a strong mission focus.

Pliska: How can the STEM industry work toward increasing diversity and representation in the field?

Page: It’s going to require a lot of work because companies have to establish an organizational culture where diversity is the norm. The hiring practices of many STEM companies need to reflect their goal of making this shift. I think MIS has such a diverse team behind it primarily because of how explicit humanity is to our company’s mission to eradicate water scarcity across the world. This helps to connect people and build a culture that I hope can help move the STEM field forward.

State of the ag economy, tax reform, and food technology

Delegates to Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Annual Convention will discuss and form policy positions on several key issues that affect the well-being of Nebraska farm and ranch families. Farmers and ranchers will gather Dec. 2-4 at Kearney’s Younes Convention Center to establish policy for the organization on state issues and recommend policy on national matters to the American Farm Bureau, which holds its national meeting in January.

“Our annual meeting is about serving members, and our policy development process is critical to bringing together the collective voice of our members to help shape the public policies that directly affect the livelihood and our ability to raise food for a growing population,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

Among the key issues for discussion at the convention about us dropshippers will be the state of the ag economy, trade, tax reform, food technology and rural broadband.

“Net farm income in Nebraska has fallen substantially in recent years and income for 2018 looks like it will at best remain steady to lower. Delegates will discuss policy regarding profitability in agriculture from a state and national perspective,” Nelson said.

We have been tackling the issue of property tax reform on the delegate floor and this year will be no exception.

“Property tax relief and reform is still high on the minds of our members, and our delegates will further discuss what they would like to see done in that area,” Nelson said.

“Nebraska is a beef state and our delegates will consider a number of resolutions that examine the labeling of synthetic meat products. While our members aren’t necessarily interested in banning these products, they are worried about consumer confusion and want to ensure the good-will bought and paid for with producer dollars via checkoff programs, isn’t harmed by this new technology. It should be a very good discussion on the delegate floor,” Nelson said.

Other issues for deliberation by delegates include topics such as private property rights and nuisance laws, the use of blockchain technology in agriculture as well as discussion surrounding the use of data to monitor and verify the source and origin of commodities and food from the farm through the processors, us dropshipping suppliers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers, among other topics.

Outside of action on agriculture policy, attendees to the annual convention will have the opportunity to attend breakout sessions designed to help farm and ranch families address operational needs. Sessions will be held to help attendees with issues surrounding the transfer of the farm or ranch from one generation to the next, gain insight on trade deals, and the impact the next farm bill will have on the agriculture economy.

“The Nebraska Farm Bureau was established many years ago to help Nebraska’s farm and ranch families deal with challenging issues, while the times and issues may have changed, our mission has not,” Nelson said.

Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Annual Convention will also serve as the backdrop for the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation’s Grower’s Gala event Dec. 3.

“Annual convention will highlight the Grower’s Gala fundraiser, and there is no better place to capture what the foundation is doing to broaden their reach and provide high-quality agricultural literacy programming across the state. We welcome their insight on how to continue the excitement of an industry that provides necessities, quality of life, and exciting career opportunities. The future in Nebraska is bright because of our foundation,” Nelson said.

Highest Employment In Service And Shop Market Sales

The “Service Workers and Shop and Market Sales’ industry group accounted for the highest number of persons employed – 290,700 as at July 2018.

According to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) labour force survey for the month, the figure is 13,600 more than the 277,100 persons recorded for July 2017.

STATIN said the increase is also the largest recorded among the occupational groups, with women accounting for 12,300 or approximately 90 per cent of the figure.

The number of employed women in the Service Workers and Shop and Market Sales occupational group increased from 172,400 in July 2017 to 184,700 in July this year, STATIN said.

According to the International Standard Classification of Occupations provided by the International Labour Organisation, service workers and shop and market sales workers provide personal and protective services related to travel, housekeeping, catering, personal care, or protection against fire and unlawful acts, or they pose as models for artistic creation and display, or demonstrate and sell goods in wholesale or free dropshippers and similar establishments, as well as at stalls and in markets.

Tasks performed by service workers and shop and market sales workers usually include organisation and provision of services during travel; housekeeping; preparation and serving of food and beverages; childcare; rudimentary nursing and related care at homes or in institutions; personal care, such as hairdressing or beauty treatment; companionship; astrology and fortune- telling; embalming; funeral arrangements; protection of individuals and property against fire and unlawful acts and enforcement of law and order; posing as models for advertising, artistic creation and display of goods; selling goods in wholesale dropshippers usa or retail establishments, as well as at stalls and in markets.

STATIN said the largest increase in employed males, 9,700, was recorded in the ‘Craft and Related Trade Workers’ occupational group, which saw their number climbing from 133,400 in July 2017 to 143,100 this year.

The corresponding figure for women, 5,200, was recorded in the ‘Wholesale & Retail, Repair of Motor Vehicles & Equipment’ industry group, resulting in their number rising to 129,400 as at July 2018.

The total number of employed persons in the construction industry group rose by 9,400 persons to 103,700, with the number of additional males getting jobs in this sector similar to the margin of increase.

However, the number of men employed as ‘Skilled Agricultural and Fishery Workers’ declined by 7,400 to 145,500 persons.

The total employed labour force, according to STATIN, rose to 1,226,400 as at July 2018, representing an increase of 12,800 above the number for July 2017.

The number of males employed increased by 5,900 to 681,800, while female employment rose by 6,900 to 544,600 persons.

This translated into the country’s unemployment rate falling to 8.4 per cent as at July 2018, according to STATIN’s survey. The outturn is 1.3 per cent lower than the 9.7 per cent recorded for the April 2018 survey and 2.9 per cent lower than the rate of 11.3 per cent for July 2017.

STATIN said the decline is mainly attributable to an increase in the number of persons employed and a simultaneous reduction in the number of persons in the labour force.

The Institute said the unemployment rate among youth aged 14 to 24 decreased by 5.3 per cent to 22.2 per cent, relative to the 27.5 per cent outturn recorded in July 2017.

STATIN said the rate for both genders declined by 5.2 per cent in July 2018, with the figure for males falling to 17.4 per cent compared to 28.1 per cent for females.

It said the total labour force stood at 1,338,200 persons, a decrease of 2.2 per cent in July 2018, compared to the corresponding period last year.