Amid formidable challenges facing South Africa, including an energy crisis, the latest employment figures give grounds for cautious hope, says President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Writing in his weekly letter to the public, Ramaphosa said that South Africa’s economy and society have proven to be resilient, and they are showing encouraging signs of recovery.
He noted recent job statistics from the Stats SA Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the second quarter of the year that reported a decline in the country’s unemployment rate.
Although only slight, the nation’s unemployment rate decreased from 34.5% in the first quarter to 33.9% in the second, a change of 0.6 percentage points.
According to the statistics, there were 648,000 more jobs filled in the first and second quarters of 2022.
Ramaphosa said this is an encouraging increase in much-needed jobs over the first half of this year. He added that the jobs were mainly created in sectors such as community and social services, trade, finance and construction.
The sectors of employment that have seen an increase indicate that the priority areas of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan – including mass public employment, economic reform and infrastructure development – impact job creation, he said.
“Economic growth cannot be realised, and jobs cannot be created without undertaking the difficult but necessary structural reforms to improve the business and investment climate. This is the government’s role,” the president said.
“However, for success to be guaranteed, we will need to forge consensus between business, labour and civil society not only on the reforms that are needed but on the trade-offs that are necessary to achieve our goals.”
While the economy takes time to recover and our reform programme is implemented, Ramaphosa said the government will continue to pursue a range of interventions to support job creation.
Such interventions will be implemented alongside measures to support private sector growth, expand public employment and ensure social protection for the country’s most vulnerable.
With infrastructure development and investment being key priorities, the growth of jobs in the construction area is particularly encouraging, he said.
Ramaphosa pointed to the following developments in the infrastructure sector as positive steps for job creation and economic upliftment:
- The Construction Industry Development Board recently noted an increase in infrastructure projects driven by state-owned enterprises like Transnet and Eskom, as well as in the metros and through the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure;
- A proposed amendment to remove the licensing threshold for electricity generation facilities and encourage investment in larger, utility-scale projects to rapidly add new generation capacity to the grid being put forward;
- Government working in partnership with various stakeholders on implementation and policy reform – since the national energy plan was announced, and;
- Since raising the licensing threshold to 100 megawatts in June 2021, more than 500 MW of private renewable power generation projects have been registered, with a pipeline of over 6,000 MW of projects at various stages of development.
“In June this year, we saw our economy return to pre-pandemic growth levels owing to a fairly positive GDP outcome in the first quarter of the year. Naturally, the objective is to move significantly off this low base, which is why we are continuing with our focus on structural reforms that drive growth,” said Ramaphosa.
He added that despite such initiatives, more needs to be done to make a significant dent in the country’s high unemployment rate.