Eastern Cape suffers SA’s highest unemployment

Eastern Cape suffers SA’s highest unemployment
Eastern Cape suffers SA’s highest unemployment
Image: Mujahid Safodien /AFP/Getty Images

Despite creating 80,000 jobs in the second quarter, the Eastern Cape continues to suffer the most jobs casualties in SA.

Unemployment in the province has crept to an alarming official high of 35.4%, but is higher if 366,000 discouraged work seekers are factored in.

This is according to the Statistics SA second quarter Quarterly Labour Force Survey released on Tuesday.

The national unemployment rate jumped to an 11-year high of 29% – the highest since 2008.

Limpopo recorded the lowest at 20.3%.

The Western Cape’s unemployment rate is at 20.4%, and Gauteng is at 31.1%.

In the Eastern Cape, 1.3 million people have jobs, but 760,000 are unemployed.

More than two million people in the province are not economically active and of these, the vast majority, 1.6 million live outside of the metros where 810,000 people have jobs, but work and live alongside 473,000 unemployed.

There were 150,000 new entrants into the job market nationally in the second quarter.

Les Holbrook, executive director of the Border-Kei Chamber of Business, said it would take two years before the province turned the tide.

He attributed the fluctuating statistics to the impact of part-time jobs, such as the Expanded Public Works Programme.

“The big thing we would like to see is decent jobs. In terms of where we are today, not much is changing in terms of our basic infrastructure and economics. For example, the interest rate hasn’t changed; the economy, in terms of its growth rate, has not changed; the direct investment hasn’t changed too much,” Les Holbrook said.

“The Eastern Cape is like an elastic band. “We always stretch, and when we’re fully stretched, we come back slowly.

“We’re the last to feel the bad effect and the first to feel the good effect.”

He said the economy was clawing back in certain areas and the unemployment rate would take a turn for the better in two years.

Luthando Bara, president of the Black Business Forum, said: “Even in the last quarter, we were leading the pack in terms of job losses.

“And we’re still calling for the province to have a cogent plan. We’ve been calling for the use of local companies for government tenders. We’ve been calling for the payment of SMMEs on time.”

He said late payments to SMMEs, did not augur well for job creation.

“The issue of the brain drain, where old brains are leaving for other provinces, is making the situation even worse.

“We are calling the government to have this jobs summit which would involve all business chambers in the province to find solutions for job creation. If the government is ready for the summit, we’re ready. We’re the ones who will create the jobs, not government.”

Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane noted the numbers of unemployed in the province.

Mvusi Sicwetsha, Mabuyane’s spokesperson, said: “The report will be discussed by the executive council of the province during its meeting tomorrow morning in Bhisho.”

A statement would be issued. – Additional reporting by BusinessLive.

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