WITH the Eastern Cape losing nearly 70000 jobs in the final quarter last year – increasing its unemployment by 5.2% – analysts believe the government will fall short of its target of creating five million new jobs in the next 10 years.
The quarterly Labour Force Survey was released this week by Statistics South Africa.
Econometrix director and chief economist Dr Azar Jammine said the survey indicated that the country's employed labour force decreased by 235000 between the third and fourth quarters last year. The largest job losses were in the Eastern Cape (69000), KwaZulu-Natal (40000) and Gauteng (16000).
There were employment gainsin Mpumalanga (31000), the Western Cape (18000) and Limpopo (8000) during the same period.
"Last year government only managed to create 80000 jobs, which was way short of its 500000 target. Something drastic needs to happen soon," Jammine said, adding strike action and the demand for higher than normal wage increases had not encouraged businesses to hire.
Sectors which experienced attrition included finance, business services and construction.
Year-on-year the total job losses for the Eastern Cape were 65000 with the unemployment rate now at 29.8% – up from 28.8% from the previous quarter.
"The expanded definition of unemployment now stands at 46.1%. The number of people looking for work is 470000, which is up by 82000. If you add the official unemployed figure of 536000, it means that more than 1 million people are without work," DA MPL Bobby Stevenson said.
Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber chief executive Kevin Hustler was worried.
"While business pins its hopes on new developments and investments earmarked for the region, companies are battling to create and retain jobs under the pressures of rising input costs such as electricity and fuel," he said.
"We could see a further drop from the current 5.2% loss of employment in the Eastern Cape as some businesses teeter on the brink of unsustainability.
"However, Project Mthombo – the oil refinery to be built in the Coega IDZ – as well as approved renewable energy projects and wind farms already approved, and Transnet's forthcoming capital expenditure on rail and port infrastructure, promise excellent opportunities for businesses."