UNEMPLOYMENT levels in the Eastern Cape remained the same at 30.8% while the national rate edged down to under 25% in the period July to September.

This was revealed in the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) released on Tuesday by Statistics South Africa.

Employment gains in the province’s construction and finance sectors were nullified by high job losses in the informal and agricultural sector.

StatsSA executive manager in the Eastern Cape Zandisile Nkosiyane said the informal and the agricultural sector together contributed most to job losses, diminishing gains in employment.

He added that employment in construction was boosted by presidential projects. “We shed 21 000 jobs in the informal sector and 15 000 in the agriculture sector,” said Nkosiyane.

“Presidential Infrastructure Projects like the interchange near Vidgesville and the Mthatha bridge, boosted the construction sector in the province.”

Overall, construction gained 19 000 jobs while trade and private household gained 7 000, Nkosiyane said.

Twenty-one thousand jobs were lost in the trade sector when compared to the same quarter last year while transport shed 3 000 jobs.

DA MPL Bobby Stevenson said joblessness was contributing to the province’s equitable share of the budget being slashed as many of its economically active citizens emigrate to greener pastures.

The province has the highest expanded unemployment rate – which takes into account discouraged work seekers – at over 44.3%.

The province’s unemployment rate of 30.8% – which excludes people no longer actively looking for work – means that 30 800 out of 100 000 people could not get a job between July and September. Close to two-thirds of the unemployed were in long-term unemployment (64.5%). About 594 000 people in the province were unemployed, 5 000 more than the previous quarter.

Stevenson said the province has the second highest unemployment rate in the country, surpassed only by Free State’s 34%. —