These metros have the highest rates of employment in South Africa

With South Africa’s unemployment rate at 14-year highs, and announcements of thousands of jobs across various sectors being put at risk due to the adverse economic conditions in the country, Stats SA data shows which provinces and metros are weathering the storms.

In August, Stats SA released its Quarterly Labour Force Survey results for the second quarter of 2017 (April – June), detailing numbers around the state of employment in South Africa.

While emphasis is always placed on the levels of unemployment in the country, the data also shows where workers are most likely to be employed (absorbed) in the country, and which regions are successfully creating job opportunities.

Provincially, the Western Cape and Gauteng are the economic powerhouses of the country, and thus have high absorption rates  – the only two provinces to have over half their working-age population (15-64) in formal employment.

Contrary to popular belief, however, it is the Western Cape that appears to offer the best bet on jobs, with 53.9% of the working age population formally employed.

Looking at year-on-year jobs data, the Western Cape has been the biggest job creator in the country, adding a net of 155,000 jobs between 2016 and 2017.

This was largely counteracted by the Eastern Cape, where there was a net loss of 135,000 jobs over the same period.

The table below outlines the provinces with the highest absorption rates, as well as the number of net gains/loss in jobs:

Province Net jobs gained/lost Employment/Absorption Rate
Western Cape +155 000 53.9%
Gauteng +23 000 50.7%
South Africa -7 000 43.4%
Mpumalanga -62 000 42.5%
Free State -48 000 41.1%
North West +42 000 38.9%
Limpopo +27 000 37.8%
KwaZulu Natal +16 000 37.5%
Northern Cape -25 000 37.2%
Eastern Cape -135 000 33.8%

Metros and Cities

Assessing the data on a metropolitan or city level, the City of Cape Town again takes the top position, with an absorption rate on par with the provincial data. However it is only second to Ekurhuleni in Gauteng for the net gain in jobs.

The second quarter of 2017 saw 53,000 jobs being added in Cape Town year-on-year, compared to the 143,000 additions in Ekurhuleni.

Despite a net loss of 83,000 jobs in the City of Johannesburg over the period, the city still has the second-highest absorption rate at 52.6% of the working age population finding employment.

City/Metro Net jobs gained/lost Employment/Absorption Rate
City of Cape Town +53 000 53.9%
City of Johannesburg -83 000 52.6%
City of Tshwane -32 000 51.6%
Ekurhuleni +143 000 50.1%
Buffalo City +17 000 49.7%
eThekwini +4 000 49.4%
Manguang -26 000 46.0%
Nelson Mandela Bay -8 000 43.3%

The statistics above only factor in the changes to levels of employment and unemployment, and do not measure the changes to the non-economically active populations and the number of people who have become discouraged work-seekers.

A full break-down of South Africa’s latest statistical data on employment can be found on Stats SA.


Read: The salary gaps between Joburg, Cape Town and Durban are shrinking

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