MORE than 1.9 million people left the Eastern Cape in the last decade – more than any other province in South Africa.
This is according to the Census 2011 results released yesterday.
The 1.9 million people relate to those who were born in the province but left for greener pastures between 2001 and last year.
Migration patterns show people are leaving the province, mainly for bigger cities.
Only 381467 people relocated to the province during the same period. This means the province had a net migration turnover of 1577380.
Most people who left the province headed for the Western Cape (887871) and Gauteng (528399).
Despite the migration figures, the Eastern Cape's population grew by 0.5% since the 2007 community household survey.
This means 6562053 people now call the Eastern Cape home.
And South Africa's population increased from 40.5 million in 1996 to 51.7 million last year – an increase of more than 11 million.
The statistics also show that 440000 people relocated to the Eastern Cape but then left during the same period.
Stats SA Eastern Cape executive manager Zandisile Nkosiyane said the reason for the high migration figure was a lack of job opportunities in the province.
"The Western Cape and Gauteng are the most economically active provinces, so most of our population is migrating there.”
He said Eastern Cape residents left for jobs in mining and construction. "Even though the Eastern Cape is an economic hub when it comes to manufacturing, they go for jobs in that sector too.”
Christopher Mcinga, 25, of Graaff-Reinet, moved to Johannesburg shortly after he matriculated in 2006.
"I saw more opportunities in Joburg than I saw in the Eastern Cape,” he said.
Mcinga works as a digital manager at Caxton Community Newspapers and is responsible for training and the implementation of new media concepts.
"Professionally, there are more opportunities to link up with business executives.
"Socially, I get to gym with or live next door to the industry gurus the rest of the country merely talk about, which builds more opportunities and forms great business relationships.”
Mcinga said there was little chance of him moving back to the Eastern Cape.
Michael Brennan, 36, formerly from Port Elizabeth, has lived in Johannesburg for the past decade.
He is in the film industry and said he travelled between Johannesburg and Cape Town on a regular basis.
Brennan said these cities had more to offer from a filmmaker's point of view, adding that the high level of corruption in the Eastern Cape would prevent him from moving back to Nelson Mandela Bay.
"It was opportunity that brought me to Joburg and it is probably opportunity that will keep me here,” he said.
Caitlin Nash, 26, also formerly from Graaff-Reinet, moved to Cape Town in 2005. She is the head of communications for the Western Cape Department of Local Government.
"Quality of life is everything,” Nash said, adding that while Cape Town offered both beauty and fun, it was also one of the business capitals of South Africa.
Meanwhile, Nkosiyane said although many people moved their families out of the province when they took jobs elsewhere, men who took up jobs in the mining sector usually left their families behind.
"This encourages diseases like HIV/Aids and TB and then these diseases spread to our province,” he said.
"Our migration pattern has slowed down the population growth of the Eastern Cape.”
Nkosiyane said Eastern Cape municipalities would receive less "equitable shares” from the national Treasury due to the outward migration.