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Did the DA-led Western Cape create ‘75% of all jobs’ in SA last year? ‘Confusing’ claim correct

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  • In the Western Cape a net of 123,000 jobs (job gains minus losses) were created between the first quarters of 2017 and 2018.

  • This works out to 75% of the 165,000 net jobs added to the South African economy during this time.

  • However, experts said this claim could be “confusing” as some may assume that the rest of the country only produced 25% of jobs.

South Africa’s official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA), took to Twitter recently to boast about a staggering figure.

“The DA-led Western Cape has created 75% of all jobs in South Africa in the past year,” the party tweeted to its 506,000 followers.

It added that the job creation was “thanks to initiatives like the Lansdowne Bottling Company”. The tweet has been retweeted 138 times and liked 330 times.

One reader asked us to sort fact from fiction, so we looked at the data.

165,000 jobs created in South Africa

The source of the claim was Statistics South Africa’s (Stats SA) Quarterly Labour Force Survey for January to March 2018, Robert Botha, the DA’s senior issue driver for finance, told Africa Check.

In January to March 2017 – the first quarter of the year – there were an estimated 16,212,000 employed people in South Africa. In the first quarter of 2018 the number was 16,378,000 – an increase of 165,000.

75% of net jobs from Western Cape

A manager with Stats SA’s labour statistics division, Malerato Mosiane, told Africa Check that the claim was correct for net jobs. (Note: Net jobs are the number of job gains minus jobs losses.)

In the Western Cape, there were 123,000 more net jobs in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the first quarter of 2017. If you work this out as a percentage of the 165,000 net jobs added for the whole country it does equal 74.5%.

This does not mean, however, that the rest of the country only produced 25% of jobs over the same period.

Such claims ‘may be confusing’

Since the DA’s calculation is based on net jobs, Limpopo can claim it created 50.3% of net jobs and KwaZulu-Natal can claim it created 37.6%

Stats SA’s Mosiane told Africa Check that the Western Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal accounted for 162% of net jobs. She said that claims like this “may be confusing”.

This sentiment was also shared by Zaakhir Asmal, a researcher at the University of Cape Town’s Development Policy Research Unit.

“Mathematically it makes sense,” Asmal said, “but intuitively it is confusing to say that all of the provinces that experienced an increase in jobs over the period contributed to more than 100%of the total change in employment over the period.”

This positive growth was offset by negative contributions made by Mpumalanga (-12.1%), the Eastern Cape (-27.3%) and Gauteng (-75.2%) over this period.

When the positive and negative contributions of all nine provinces are totalled they equal 100%, as the table below shows.

Net provincial changes in employment between Q1 2017 & Q1 2018
ProvinceNett jobsContribution
Western Cape123,00074.5%
Free State48,00029.1%
Northern Cape22,00013.3%
North West16,0009.7%
Eastern Cape-45,000-27.3%

Source: Stats SA Quarterly Labour Force Survey 2018

Careful of implying without evidence

Asmal added that political parties in South Africa should take care when they boast of job creation in the areas they govern.

“While it may be true to say that a certain proportion of jobs created in the country was created in a particular province, it is not necessarily correct to say - or imply without evidence - that this is because a particular province is governed by a particular party,” Asmal told Africa Check.

Conclusion: The claim is correct

South Africa’s largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, claimed that the province they administer created 75% of the country’s jobs in the past year.

Data from Statistics South Africa, the national statistics agency, shows that this is correct if the province’s job gains are calculated as a share of net jobs created across the country.  

Experts warn that claims like this may be confusing because provincial job gains add up to more than 100%. This, however, is offset by negative contributions from the remaining provinces.

Edited by Kate Wilkinson


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