STATS SA: Free State continues to shed jobs, highest unemployment rate in SA

Roy Jankielsohn

Leader of the Official Opposition in the Free State Provincial Legislature

The Free State has retained its place as the province with the highest unemployment rate in South Africa and key labour intensive sectors continue to shed jobs..

According to the recent STATS SA Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) the official unemployment rate in the Free State is 34.5%. Unemployment according to the expanded definition currently stands at 40.9%. According to the expanded definition, out of a total working population of 1 858 million people, approximately 1 182 million people are not working.

The breakdown of the economically inactive population in the Free State is:

  • 399 000 people are unemployed;
  • 705 000 people are not economically active in any way:
  • 78 000 people have given up looking for employment altogether.

There is an encouraging show of marginal employment growth during the third quarter. The province did manage to create around 10 000 jobs, but significant job losses have been recorded in labour intensive sectors:

  • Agriculture shed 8 000 jobs;
  • Utility services shed 1 000  jobs;
  • Mining lost 1 000 jobs;
  • Employment in private households lost 9 000 jobs.

Over the last two years we have seen the Free State deteriorate rapidly on almost all socio-economic indicators. The province is now officially the second worst governed province in South Africa teetering on the brink of a total financial collapse. The delivery of basic services such as water is becoming sporadic and local municipalities are unable to pay their ESKOM bills to keep the lights on.

Our hospitals and clinics are dilapidated, poorly stocked with medicine and unable to perform surgeries.

Despite this terribly frightening economic outlook, coupled with poor governance, the ANC-led government of Premier Ace Magashule continues to function in denial, unable to tackle the problems in the Free State head on.

Premier Magashule and his administration lack the vision and political will to implement sound policies that would attract investment and spur economic growth, which would result in the creation of thousands of new jobs.