The survey was undertaken biennially from 1965-1985 by the South African Department of Manpower (now the South African Department of Labour) and the standard form used the department's own classification scheme.
The survey was administered between 1987 and 1997 by the Central Statistical Service (CSS) (now Statistics South Africa). In 1996 the name changed to the Occupational Survey. In 1998 it was replaced by the Survey of Occupations by Race and Gender, but this was discontinued after the pilot study in 1998. The two series of Manpower Surveys are not always comparable. Data users need to read the data quality notes provided for further details on data comparability.
The Manpower Survey is a survey of enterprises in South Africa that provides industry and occupation data by gender and race. It covered both the private and public sector, but excluded workers in the informal sector and agricultural sector, and domestic workers in private households. Enterprise details for the survey sample were obtained from government sources, and the survey instrument was a form mailed to enterprise managers.
The dataset available from DataFirst includes data from the surveys conducted in 1965-1994, unearthed in a project to find and share historical South African microdata. The data was obtained with the assistance of Lucia Lotter, Anneke Jordaan and Marie-Lousie van Wyk from the Human Sciences Research Council's Research Use and Impact Assessment Department. The project was made possible by an exploratory grant obtained by Andrew Kerr and Martin Wittenberg of DataFirst from the Private Enterprise Development in Low-Income Countries (PEDL) research initiative. PEDL is a joint research initiative of the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) and the Uk Department For International Development (DFID). It aims to develop a research programme focusing on private-sector development in low-income countries.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Unit of Analysis
Units of analysis in the survey include firms and individuals
Version 01: Edited, anonymised dataset for licensed distribution.
Version one of the dataset was obtained by DataFirst in March 2013. In version 1.1 of this dataset DataFirst has merged the data files and created variable labels, and provided documentation for the surveys.
The Manpower Survey records employment by race and gender for occupations in both private and public enterprises in the formal non-agricultural business sector. It excludes domestic workers in private households.
The surveys conducted by the Department of Labour between 1965 and 1985 have the following industry groupings:
Food, beverage and tobacco
Wood and furniture
Leather and shoe
Glass, cement, bricks
Metal and engineering
Jewellers and opticians
Hotels and clubs
Other personal services
Medical, professional, education and related services
Government, SAR&H (South African Railways and Harbours) and administrations
The survey had national coverage, but excluded the "independent" " homelands" of Bophuthatswana and Transkei (excluded from 1979) Venda (1981) and the Ciskei (1983).
The universe of the survey were enterprises in the formal non-agricultureal sector in South Africa.
Producers and sponsors
South African Department of Labour
Government of South Africa
Central Statistical Service (CSS) (now Statistics South Africa)
Government of South Africa
The survey sample is based on lists of companies obtained from the databases of the Compensation Fund and Unemployment Insurance Fund of the South African Department of Labour) and the South African Tourism Board. During the time the surveys were conducted by the Department of labour (1965-1985), the sample of companies was 250,000. The survey was taken over by the Central Statistical Service (now Statistics South Africa) in 1987 who rationalised the sample to 12,800 companies in 1989, and later to 8500.
The sample excludes domestic workers in private household, and workers in the agricultural and informal sectors. The firms were classified into industries, based on the Standard Industrial Classification of all Economic Activities. Where these firms consisted of more than one establishment in more than one sector the firm was classified according to the sector in which it is predominantly engaged. Thus, although workers in the agricultural sector are not covered these may be included in firm data for those firms which include more than one establishment, and where one of the establishments is involved in agricultural production.
Entities in the "independent" " homelands" were excluded from the survey. These included Bophuthatswana and Transkei (excluded from 1979) Venda (1981) and the Ciskei (1983).
Since the questionnaire was completed by company managers, the response rate of the sample is very high (around 90 percent)
The 1965-1985 questionnaire from the Department of Labour has 5 Sections:
Section A: To be completed for all employees except artisans, apprentices and “Bantu” building workers
Section B: To be completed for male artisans and apprentices only
Section C: To be completed for women artisans and apprentices only
Section D: To be completed for “Bantu” building workers only (“skilled Bantu building workers and learners registered in terms of the Bantu Building Workers' Act”)
Section E: To be completed for all employees (total number of employees)
The 1987-1994 questionnaire from the Central Statistical Service has 4 Sections:
Section 1: To be completed for all employees except artisans, apprentices
Section 2: To be completed for artisans only (men and women)
Section 3: To be completed for apprentices only (men and women)
Section 4: To be completed for all employees (total number of employees)
The variable <afdeling> ("section" in Afrikaans) in the data represents the sections of the questionnaire. However, this variable only has 3 values. It is not clear how these 3 categories have been constructed from data from sections in the two different questionnaires.
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Notes
The questionnaire for the survey was a form mailed to enterprise managers to complete and return.
The Manpower survey enables investigations of long-term changes in the occupational and racial division of labour during the period 1965-1994. It is the only data source for this period that distinguishes artisans and apprentices from other manual workers, which allows analysis of these occupations over time. However, the data is not reliable at disaggregated levels because of the following:
(1) Both agriculture and the informal sector are excluded from the survey universe. These sectors are major employers in the South African economy.
(2) Domestic workers in private households are also excluded from the sample.
(3) The survey does not cover the unemployed and is therefore not representative of the economically active population.
(4) Although this is an occupational survey, the information on occupations is derived from samples based on total employment within industries.
(5) A new sample was drawn by the Central Statistical Service when they took over the Manpower Survey from the Department of Manpower in 1987, causing a break in the series.
Finally, the variable <afdeling> ("section" in Afrikaans) in the data represents the sections of the questionnaire. However, this variable only has 3 values, which do not match the 5 sections in the DOL questionnaire or the 4 sections in the CSS version of the questionnaire (see the Questionnaires metadata for more on this) It is not clear how these 3 categories have been constructed from data from sections in the two different questionnaires.
University of Cape Town
Licensed dataset, accessible under conditions.
Use of the dataset must be acknowledged using a citation which would include:
the Identification of the Primary Investigator
the title of the survey (including country, acronym and year of implementation)
The user of the data acknowledges that the original collector of the data, the authorized distributor of the data, and the relevant funding agency bear no responsibility for use of the data or for interpretations or inferences based upon such uses.
World Bank Microdata Library
DDI Document ID
University of Cape Town
Date of Metadata Production
DDI Document version
Version 02 (July 2013). Edited from Version 01 DDI (ddi-zaf-datafirst-ms-1965-1994-v1.1) that was done by DataFirst.