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

Comments 5


The Western Cape has created 75% of all jobs in South Africa in the past year.

Source: Democratic Alliance (@Our_DA) on Twitter



Western Cape added 75% of net jobs

  • 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.

NOTE: This fact-check relates to a statement made by the Democratic Alliance in June 2018. It does not relate to statements made by the party during its 2019 national election campaign.

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
Province Nett jobs Contribution
Western Cape 123,000 74.5%
Limpopo 83,000 50.3%
KwaZulu-Natal 62,000 37.6%
Free State 48,000 29.1%
Northern Cape 22,000 13.3%
North West 16,000 9.7%
Mpumalanga -20,000 -12.1%
Eastern Cape -45,000 -27.3%
Gauteng -124,000 -75.2%
Total 165,000 100%

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


Further reading:

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Comment on this report

Comments 5
  1. By Jerome

    I highly appreciate the work done by Africa Check however I must point out the misleading conclusion in this piece.

    Although 123 000 jobs is 75% of net job gains nationally, when phrased the way that the WC contributed 75% of new job opportunities it implies that 3 out of 4 new job opportunities were in the WC and 25% were in the other the other 8 Provinces. Using this logic it could then simultaneously be claimed that 50% of new jobs were also created in Limpopo over the same period. The issues with this are clear, as you can see – it would be misleading to state that 125% of jobs in q1 2017 – q1 2018 were created in Limpopo and the Western Cape.

    Therefore, it is my opinion that this statement should be rectified to state something along the lines of that the Western Cape accounted for 35% of net job gains per Province over the period.

    Reply Report comment
  2. By Chris Taylor

    I do not see the logic in Jerome’s query, he has not supplied the relevant information relating to Limpopo. Please be sure you publish your referenced numbers so we can satisfy ourselves of the truth.

    Reply Report comment
  3. By Roland Giesler

    Really, you’re still not presenting an clear picture.,

    New Jobs % of new jobs
    Western Cape 123,000 34.75%
    Limpopo 83,000 23.45%
    KwaZulu-Natal 62,000 17.51%
    Free State 48,000 13.56%
    Northern Cape 22,000 6.21%
    North West 16,000 4.52%
    354,000 100.00%

    That would represent the new jobs created. The fact that other provinces lost jobs could be for a number of reasons, like moving to the Western Cape, immigrating, moving back to Zimbabwe or elsewhere north, becoming unemployed or other reasons. But just net jobs is not accurate representation of the growth in new jobs. While it may create a picture for the country, it doesn’t paint a clear picture to express it as a percentage per province when many provinces have a negative job increase.

    Reply Report comment
  4. By David

    After the smoke screen of NET Jobs CREATED has cleared …what people are conveniently neglecting to recognize is that overall UNEMPLOYMENT has INCREASED. And this especially applies to Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape and ESPECIALLY Gauteng.

    Reply Report comment

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