The trouble with analysing the data is that the main focus is on the quarter-on-quarter growth, seasonally adjusted and annualised. In plain English, that is the growth between the first and second quarters, expressed at an annual rate. In other words, it's the growth that would occur over a full year if the growth between the first and second quarters had continued for a full year. This figure, according to Stats SA, was 4.9%. This was much higher than the 4.3% forecast by economists. So, on the face of it, cause for celebration.
But dig deeper in the numbers, and two important things emerge. The first is that the base for the first quarter was revised downwards, which amplifies the outcome for the second quarter. Stats SA says the quarterly growth rate for the first quarter, seasonally adjusted and annualised, was revised downwards to 4% from 4.2%.
The second, and more important, issue is that the year-on-year growth rate was below 4%. The year-on-year growth rate is the rate of growth between the second quarter of last year and the same period this year. This growth rate came in at only 3.6%, down from 3.9% in the first quarter. For the first half of the year - compared with the same period last year - economic growth was 3.8%. It's clear that, with year-on-year growth for the first half of the year running at such a low level, it will be an achievement to get to a growth rate of above 4% for the year as a whole.