Unemployment per metro: Will new mayors deliver? | Fin24

Unemployment per metro: Will new mayors deliver?

Aug 21 2016 10:59

As the new mayors assume their roles in the various metros, one of the biggest challenges they face is unemployment. South Africa’s official unemployment rate was 26.6% at the end of the second quarter. But how does unemployment stack up when compared across the metros, and who has the tougher task? Independent economist John Maynard unpacks the latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey, and draws out the jobless numbers of various metros. Interesting stuff. – Stuart Lowman

By John Maynard*

Before looking at the unemployment rates of various metro’s within South Africa, we will take a look at the unemployment rate per province. The line graph below shows the unemployment rate per province per quarter from quarter 1:2015 to quarter 2:2016. What is clear from the line graph is that all South Africa’s provinces have a relatively high unemployment rate, with most of the provinces having an unemployment rate above 20%. 

Essentially one out of every five citizens eligible for work in South Africa is without a job.

The official unemployment rate for South Africa, as at end of quarter 2:2016 is 26.6%. Essentially one out of every 4 people eligible and willing to work in South Africa are without a job.

While Gauteng is South Africa’s main economic hub, massive migration into the province is leading to high levels of unemployment. Surprisingly one of the poorer and smaller provinces in terms of economic size, Limpopo, has the lowest unemployment rate.

The graph below takes a look at the unemployment rate per metropolitan area (where one is available as calculated by Statistics South Africa).

The line graph shows the unemployment rate per quarter from Q1:2015 to Q2:2016 per metropolitan area. Interesting to note that eThekwini municipality has the lowest unemployment rate, while Nelson Mandela Bay (in Eastern Cape) and Ekurhuleni (in Gauteng) are fighting it out for the metro with the highest official unemployment rate.

A surprise is that Buffalo City (East London), in Eastern Cape has a lower unemployment rate than that of Nelson Mandela Bay. City of Cape Town has the second lowest unemployment rate of the metros that has an official unemployment rate.

With Statistics South Africa having recently started publishing unemployment data on a metropolitan level, we would be able to more accurately measure if political parties will/can make good on their promise of reducing unemployment in the metros that they govern.

Since the Democratic Alliance has unseated the ANC with “tacit” support from the EFF in some major metropoles, a close eye will be kept on the unemployment levels of the metro’s in question to see if the DA will be able to do any better than the ANC that used to govern them before.

The DA has their work cut out in Nelson Mandela Bay, with the unemployment rate sitting at 32%. The ANC even more so with unemployment in the Ekurhuleni metro of 34.6%.

Interesting times ahead. As more detailed data becomes available (in more regular intervals) with time, it becomes easier to not only track the performance of political parties in various metros but to report on them too. The DA has been talking the talk, now its time to walk the walk. And statistics and numbers will be there to measure their performance every step of the way.

* John Maynard is the nom de plume of an independent economist who is obsessed with official statistics – and uses these facts to blast through misleading narrative and propaganda. For more of his unique insights click here.

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