Youth hit hard by unemployment

The youth bear the brunt of the province’s high unemployment rate, with almost 70% of those aged between 19 and 24 unemployed.

In addition, half of those employed in the Eastern Cape earn less than the minimum wage and live in poverty, according to a survey prepared for the province’s economic development department.

This is contained in the first annual Eastern Cape Labour Market Review (ECLMR), presented in East London to labour and government officials at the Eastern Cape Socio-Economic Consultative Council (ECSECC) yesterday.

It comes just a week after StatsSA released its latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey, which showed that the Eastern Cape’s unemployment rate increased by 3% from the third to the fourth quarter of last year, despite a slight drop in the national unemployment rate.

The ECLMR study was commissioned by the Eastern Cape economic development department and prepared by Rhodes University’s Neil Aggett Labour Studies Unit.

The review derived from Census 2011 and the Quarterly Labour Force Survey highlighted that those who classified as employed were not necessarily well off.

“All that was needed for a person to be classified as employed in Census 2011 was that he or she had to have performed at least one hour of work for pay, profit or family gain in the seven days prior to the Census interview or have been absent with some form of work to return to,” said Rhodes University’s Dr John Reynolds.

“More than 20% of those employed in the formal sector indicated that they earned R800 or less per month, and more than a third indicated that they earned R1600 or less per month – the latter is lower than the Sectoral Determination Level for Domestic Workers.”

Eastern Cape Cosatu provincial secretary MacVicar Dyasopu called on government to reduce its use of the tender system and do away with austerity measures to deal with high poverty levels.

“Broadly all state departments should conduct vacancy audits for immediate intervention in this unemployment crisis confronting the province so that they reject the austerity measures advocated by treasury in October last year,” he said.

“The government should rather utilise the courier division of the Post Office to conduct this business. Pension payouts could be done using the well spread infrastructure of the Post Office.”

East London Industrial Development Zone chairman Zolile Tini, who attended the presentation, said every sphere of government should work to tackle unemployment.

“Every sphere of government with business and labour must speak with one voice to find solutions,” said Tini. —


Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.