Sasolburg – The MEC for Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DESTEA), Makalo Mohale in Free State has confirmed that the provincial’s working age population stood at 1.92 million in the fourth quarter of 2020, during his respective departmental budget vote.
This simply means that there is an increase of 0.4% from the fourth quarter of 2019; with 745 000 employed persons and 374 000 unemployed persons, the province’s labor force for the fourth quarter was recorded at least 1.12 million.
“Of the working age population, 798 000 were characterized as not economically active while 80 000 were described as discourage work-seekers. The province’s official unemployment rate for Q4:2020 was 33.4%, this is a decrease of 2.1 percentage points quarter-to-quarter and a decrease of 1.6 percentage points year-on-year,” said MEC Makalo Mohale.
Meanwhile, a lot of young in the Free State are still unemployed compared to older people. The Free State unemployment rate for the youth population aged between 15 and 34 is still at 48.2% in Q4:2020. And this was 0.8 of percentage point higher than in Q3:2020. The MEC Mohalo continued to indicate that the unemployment rate for the population aged between 35 and 64 is at 22.6% in Q4:2020; 3.3 percentage points lower than in Q3:2020.
It is also reported that the percentage of people living in poverty in the Free State province, has decreased from 63.92% in 2009 to 60.21% in 2019, which indicates a decrease of 3.69 percentage points. Research indicates that the population group with the highest percentage of people living in poverty was the African population group with a total of 67.8% people living in poverty.
Meanwhile, the Free State’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased at an annualized rate of 72.9% in the third quarter of 2020, largely as a result of the easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. The Province has not recorded positive GDP growth since the second quarter of 2019. And the MEC Mohale says that the provincial economy is expected to grow by 3% between 2020 and 2021.
“Growth in the mining industry is forecast at 7%, utilities at 9% while trade and transport are each estimated to grow by 4%.” Maholo added that Free State Province had a positive trade balance in 2019 to the value of R 2.73 billion. The merchandise export from Free State Province amounts to R 8.2 billion and as a percentage of total national exports constitutes about 0.63%. The exports from Free State Province constitute 3.26% of total Free State Province’s GDP.
By Thys Khiba, Free State Central News