FS picture looks bleak

2017-06-07 06:01

The Free State, with the highest unemployment rate in South Africa at 35,5%, presents a gloomy picture of inhabitants trapped in inequality and poverty.

This is shown by Statistics South Africa’s quarterly labour force survey for the first quarter of 2017, which was released on 1 June.

According to Statistics South Africa the country’s unemployment rate has increased to 27,7% in the first quarter of 2017, up from 26,5% in the previous period.

It is the first time since the first quarter of 2004 that the unemployment rate has risen faster than the rate of employment.

According to Statistics South Africa, the number of employed persons in the Free State has increased by 10 000 from 757 000 in the first quarter of 2017 to the current 767 000.

The province’s inability to turn around the socio-econo-mic situation has received a mixed response, with the Free State government expressing some confidence, as opposed to opposition parties.

Tiisetso Makhele, spokesperson of Premier Ace Magashule, says the premier is satisfied with the increase in employment as per the Quarterly Labour Force Survey Report for the first quarter of 2017.

“The premier believes that this increase in the number of employed persons, though minimal, is an indication that the province’s radical economic transformation programme is beginning to bear fruit.

“The developments also show that the private sector is showing confidence in the economy,” says Makhele.

He said the challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality are sensitive “and should be a source of concern to us all”.

“Political parties are urged not to use issues of unemployment for scoring political points. It is regrettable that, in playing political games with such a sensitive matter, the DA has quoted flawed statistics on the employment trends, incorrectly stating that the province lost 19 000 jobs in the first quarter of 2017. This information is false and nothing but political propaganda.”

According to Dr Roy Jankielsohn, DA leader in the Free State legislature, the rising unemployment rate translated to 41,7% (expanded definition).

“This bleak economic outlook is a direct result of the ANC government’s disastrous management of the economy.

“The total Free State labour force is recorded at 1 188 million. Out of these, 421 000 individuals are unable to find work, while 88 000 persons have given up looking for a job altogether,” says Jankielsohn.

The survey also further revealed Free State municipalities’ inability to revive employment or economic growth prospects. Statistics South Africa reported that the unemployment rate remained virtually unchanged in the Mangaung Metro Municipality.

The Metro Municipality now administers Bloemfontein, Botshabelo, Thaba Nchu, Soutpan, Dewetsdorp, Wepener and Van Stadensrus.

Statistics South Africa revealed that the Mangaung Metro is one of the three metros in South Africa, along with the City of Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay, which have failed to register growth in employment, unlike all metro municipalities in the country, which managed to register some employment.

The latest findings regarding the municipalities in the Free State come against the backdrop of a survey by Statistics South Africa which revealed that the Free State municipalities had the highest percentage of posts that were unoccupied in 2016. The survey was conducted as part of investigations into causes of widespread protest over poor service delivery.

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