Johannesburg - Ninety percent of urban adults feel that the most pressing need in South Africa is job creation, a survey released on Tuesday showed.
Said TNS Research Surveys innovation head Neil Higgs: "77% feel that is housing, whereas a much smaller 54% feel that the water supply will become a big problem in future."
The survey was conducted at the beginning of the year among a sample of 2 000 South African adults from the seven major metropolitan areas.
People were interviewed face-to-face in their homes, and there was a margin error of under 2.5%.
The survey showed that all race groups agreed that job creation was important, Higgs said.
According to the survey 91% of blacks, 85% of whites, 95% of coloureds and 93% of Indians felt job creation was a pressing need.
Blacks, coloureds and Indians felt the need for houses was a close second to the need for jobs.
For whites, the water problem ranked second and housing third, he said.
Eighty-three percent of blacks, 51% of whites, 84% of coloureds and 83% of Indians felt the most pressing need in South Africa was for houses.
"The housing shortage is felt more acutely by younger people and by those, not surprisingly, living in informal dwellings and in smaller dwellings (mostly middle-income people), where the need for better housing equals that of the need for employment," Higgs said.
Forty-eight percent of blacks, 67% of whites, 65% of coloureds and 62% of Indians felt the supply of water in South Africa would become a big problem.
"The water supply problem is perceived to be greater by older people," he said.
At the end of 2010, the government released its new growth path framework introducing public policy aimed at "enhancing growth, employment creation, and equity".
Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said the policy's target was to create five million jobs over the next 10 years.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan expanded on this in his 2011 national budget speech.
Higgs said it was clear that, in broad terms, the government's framework was in line with what South Africans felt was the most pressing need.
"However, the need for houses is also perceived to be high," he said.
"The water issue is seen in a very different light in different areas, due no doubt, in part, to the type of rainy season different areas have had.
"Given that South Africa's water supply is indeed under threat, this misperception is potentially serious."