The Democratic Alliance (DA) is concerned by the grim outcomes for the Free State in the most recent labour force survey for the first quarter of 2021 released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA). As we enter the month of June which is meant to be a celebration of our youth, there is very little to inspire confidence for our youth that the Free State will provide them with the dignity of having a job. The employment rates have gone in the wrong direction and the Free State is setting all the wrong records and for the wrong reasons.
The most recent labour force survey for the first quarter of 2021 released by Stats SA indicates that the Free State recorded the largest decreases of employment in the country at 42 000. The Free State also had the biggest change in employment the country with a decrease of 5.7%.
The official unemployment rate in the Free State has also increased from 33.4% to 35.6%, which is the largest increase recorded in the country.
In a working population (people aged between 15 – 64 years) of the Free State’s population, 703 000 are employed whilst 388 000 are unemployed and 827 000 remain economically inactive. There are also 104 000 disgruntled job seekers.
These unemployment percentages in the Free State are a cause for serious concern. This should raise the alarm bells to the provincial government who have seemingly been more focused on internal factionalism and continued looting than creating an environment in the Free State in which investors can invest to create jobs for the province. The Free State provincial government appears to undermining all private sector initiatives by failing to create an enabling environment for investment.
If government cannot deliver basic services such as providing reliable electricity and water, ensuring that the roads network in the province is in a safe and working condition, and ridding the province of drug peddlers and increasing levels of crime, then no investor will want to invest in the Free State.
The DA commends the agricultural, mining, trading, and finance sectors who despite tough economic conditions and the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, have managed to create an increased number of employment opportunities for the province from the previous quarter. This remains a beacon of hope for Free Staters in what is otherwise a disappointing quarterly report for our labour force.
As the most central province in the country, the Free State has potential to attract investments and grow the provincial economy to create jobs for our people. The DA in the Free State have a detailed post Covid-19 recovery plan for the province that could be implemented to address many of the issues that are hampering economic development in the province. This plan forms the basis for the DA’s interaction with government and the private sector.