Job creation - [Google Images]

Limpopo is second on Stats SA’s list for most jobs created in the past year, with increases in employment in manufacturing, finance and trade.

If ever the cliche “a mixed bag of results” was to be applied to a report, then Statistics SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey for Quarter 1: 2018 is by far the winner, but an overall increase in employment is nothing to be sniffed at.

“Compared to the same period last year, employment increased by 165 000, or 1%, while unemployment declined by 234 000, or 3.8%,” the survey stated.

On the other hand, the report stated between Q1: 2017 and Q1: 2018, the number of discouraged work seekers grew by 510 000 (or 22.4%) to 2.8 million people.

The Western Cape led the charge in job creation with 123 000 jobs, followed by Limpopo at 83 000 and KwaZulu-Natal with 62 000.

“During the same period, employment losses were recorded in Gauteng (124 000), Eastern Cape (45 000) and Mpumalanga (20 000),” the report stated.

Yet even within the tales of success, there are problems. For the Western Cape, the drought played havoc.

Alan Winde, minister of economic opportunities in the Western Cape, launched Project Khulisa in 2014, aimed at growing the economy and the number of jobs in key sectors, including agriculture and agriprocessing, tourism, and oil and gas.

“The growth in the numbers of jobs in trade, which includes accommodation, the food and beverage industries, and retail, are a reflection of our sustained efforts at boosting jobs in tourism and its related industries,” Winde said.

“Among the tools used to do this is the Air Access project, a joint effort aimed at opening up new routes into Cape Town International Airport, which has seen an additional 750 000 inbound seats since the project was launched in 2015.

“The impact of the sustained drought can be seen in the numbers of job losses in agriculture, where 7 000 job losses were recorded, year on year. This is, however, considerably lower than the originally expected 30 000 and is mainly due to farmers finding alternative employment for workers, having invested in water-resilience technologies and employing climate start farming strategies,” Winde said.

Nearly 15 hours’ drive away is Limpopo, also with a year-on-year increase despite its agrarian economy and political issues.

“Limpopo has seasonal workers which increases the stats, although we have a high rate of unemployed youth because of our rural nature,” said Limpopo spokesperson Kenny Mathivha.

According to Stats SA, Limpopo saw increases in employment in the manufacturing, finance and trade sectors, which bodes well for a significant cash injection on the province’s horizon.

“We signed an investment deal last month for R124 billion, mainly with Chinese industry, with the Chinese government. This will assist us in building an economic zone which could see up to 30 000 artisans employed,” Mathivha said.

With the largest platinum deposits in the country, one would have expected a rise in employment in the mining sector, Mathivha noted. However, labour problems had been an issue.

Economist Mike Schussler noted risks in the economy had to be reduced by fighting corruption. For business to expand, there had to be increased confidence and better profit margins.

“Road blockages, protests, rent seeking by some public servants, violent protests which cause damage such as power shutdowns … these all hurt business. When risks are lower and rewards better, businesses will employ more people,” said Schussler.