Today’s release by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) of the labour force survey report for the second quarter of 2021 indicates some marginal gains for the Free State, but still paints a dire picture of a jobless nation and province.
Despite the difficult economic circumstances, the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, and the most recent unrests in parts of South Africa, some small employment gains were recorded in the Free State in the second quarter which saw an additional 20 000 jobs created in the province. The Free State also had the biggest change in employment with an increase of 13,4%.
The DA welcomes these employment increases. However, it must be noted that the Free State’s unemployment rate continues to rise. The Free State’s official unemployment rate increased from 35,6% in the first quarter of 2021 to 36,5% in the second quarter of 2021. This means that while some people gained jobs, a worrying number of people continue to lose jobs. The number of unemployed people in the Free State increased from 388 000 in the first quarter of 2021 to 415 000 in the second quarter of 2021. Most worryingly however is the fact that only 37,7% of the Free State’s population of working age are employed and many have given up on seeking employment.
The Free State now has the second highest unemployment rate after the Eastern Cape.
The DA commends the agricultural, mining, construction, transport, community and social services sectors that despite tough economic conditions and the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, have quarter on quarter managed to facilitate some increases in the number of employment opportunities in the province. It is inspiring to see the resilience of these sectors during a difficult time for all local economies.
The Free State has the potential to create more job opportunities for people if the provincial and local governments could deliver basic services such as providing reliable electricity and water, ensuring a safe roads network, ridding the province of drug peddlers who contaminate our youth and show a commitment to fighting other crimes. The DA’s interaction with the business community and constructive role as the official opposition has a stabilising influence on the provincial economy and provides hope for change.
The DA has warned the provincial government of the impact which any potential unrest could have on the Free State’s fragile economy, and the party continues to play an active role in ensuring that government and law enforcement agencies are held accountable for protecting and safeguarding communities and businesses in the Free State in order to prevent job losses.
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 positive interaction with government and the private sector.