FS sees largest drop in employment figures

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The Free State has recorded the largest decrease in employment figures for the first quarter of 2021, shedding 42 000 jobs.

This is according to the latest Quarterly Labour Survey by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) released on Tuesday 1 June, OFM News reports.

This takes the province’s 33,4% unemployment rate to 35,6% on a quarterly basis. It’s further revealed that on a year-on-year basis, the province still had the biggest change in employment as compared to other provinces in the country, with a decrease of 5,7%.

The leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) Roy Jankielsohn, has weighed in on the figures and spared nothing in expressing the party’s dissatisfaction with the provincial government.

“The Free State now has 388 000 unemployed people and 827 000 economically inactive residents out of a population of 2,9 million people. The ANC-led government must take responsibility for this due to their inability to create an enabling environment for employment because of infighting and continued looting within the provincial government” says Jankielsohn.

The provincial government is yet to comment on the latest grim statistics or respond to Jankielsohn’s statement.

In early 2021 when tabling her department’s R331 million budget for the 2021/22 financial year, Free State Finance MEC Gadija Brown named unemployment as one of the major challenges facing the province and promised the provincial department she leads, will be working with all stakeholders – other departments and municipalities – to ensure that opportunities are created for women and the youth.

She further told the House there is a high need to stimulate the economy in the province and that infrastructure development is of high importance in this regard. Brown highlighted that several projects that could not be completed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown regulations, will this year be reprioritised.

Last week Free State MEC for the Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Destea) Makalo Mohale launched the Industrialisation Support Incentives Programme to stimulate domestic manufacturing and production. The programme will make use of vacant factory spaces in Botshabelo/Thaba Nchu and in the Eastern Free State. Mohale promised the programme would be inclusive of other parts of the province, once the department had found factory space they can utilise.

OFM News/Olebogeng Motse