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National unemployment decreased from 32.9% to 32.6% in the second quarter of 2023. The unemployment rate for this quarter is the lowest it has been in two years. This suggests significant efforts to revive the job market, with particular focus on industries such as construction, trade, and community and social services. These sectors have notably experienced improvements in employment rates. While this decrease is positive, employed individuals increased by 154,000 to 16,346 million, still below the pre-COVID levels of 16,383 million.

In Durban, economic recovery remains slow but steady with the addition of 10,800 new jobs in Q2 of 2023. Nonetheless, higher living costs and low business confidence continue to weigh heavily on the ability of the local economy to create employment. According to StatsSA's 2023 Q2 Labour Force Survey, strict unemployment increased from 19.4% to 20.7%. This  was due to at least 27,600 more individuals actively searching for work.

Between April and June 2023, StatsSA reported a decrease in discouraged work seekers in Durban. The reduction of 26,800 quarter-on-quarter and 67,000 year-on-year discouraged work seekers suggests a positive change as job seekers regain confidence. However, the outlier of discouraged work seekers in the same quarter last year was due to the shutting down of businesses affected by the April flooding. This indicates that the year-on-year decline in discouraged work seekers may largely have been due to post flood recovery. Nevertheless, the number of discouraged work seekers have declined over the past three quarters, indicating a positive trend.  


The graph below depicts Durban's employment trend since the first quarter of 2020, just before COVID-19. When comparing the employment trends pre-COVID and the second quarter of 2023, national employment decreased by 0.2%, while Durban's employment demonstrated resilience and growth with a substantial increase of 3.2%. Taking a closer look at quarter-on-quarter employment trend, KZN had the third-largest employment increase, with Durban employing 10,800 more people. This positive trajectory indicates a modest improvement due to various events and initiatives in the city that have played a crucial role in fostering job creation and economic improvement, promising a brighter outlook for the city's employment prospects.

Source: StatsSA Quarterly Labour Force Survey, 2023Q2

Durban's employment is expected to improve in 2023 due to various factors. In the previous financial year, initiatives like KZN CTC's programs, which trained over 80 workers and facilitated contracts worth over R3.4 million, led to the creation of 811 new jobs. The S’thesha Waya Waya plan aims to address unemployment, poverty, and inequality and has provided jobs for more than 6,000 new employees in KZN, including those participating in the Vukayibambe Routine Road Maintenance Programme, a program that teaches young individuals how to repair roads.

Additionally, the Hollywoodbets Durban July event in 2023 generated about 1,500 jobs across different sectors. Development projects like eThekwini Municipality's beachfront renovation plan, part of the Proactive Land Release Strategy, are set to create job opportunities in 2023. Bike & Bean, backed by a R300,000 investment, is expected to bring around 15 jobs post-renovation. Circus Circus, undergoing changes, aims to provide 45 positions while retaining current staff. Minitown's transformation, with a R170 million investment over 30 years, is projected to yield about 150 jobs.

Furthermore, the Giba Business Estate's investment of R1.9 billion is set to create around 5,000 jobs this year, boosting Durban's employment prospects and contributing over R60 million in municipal taxes over three years.


In the second quarter of 2023, a significant gender gap became evident, with 2 million fewer women employed in South Africa when compared to men. This revealed a substantial disparity influenced by social norms and limited opportunities. The unemployment rate for women increased by 8.2% in 2013Q2 to 35.7% in 2023Q2. In the same period, the overall national unemployment rate rose 7.3%. This highlights ongoing challenges that women face in finding and maintaining employment in South Africa. The participation rate of South African women in the labor force is 54.3%, which includes women  either employed or actively seeking work. However, this rate is lower than the national average of 59.6%, indicating underlying obstacles related access to education and care giving responsibilities.

This issue affects diverse population groups and persists even in a broader context of unemployment. Notably, Black African women experience a high unemployment rate of 39.8%,emphasizing the need for comprehensive solutions that address historical,economic, and structural factors. The concentration of women in specific sectors like Private households (i.e. domestic work) and Community and Social services, reveals occupational imbalances, contributing to wage disparities and limited career growth. Gender disparities in managerial roles, where men out number women, underscore the necessity to eliminate barriers that hinder women's advancement to leadership positions. These observations of gender inequality emphasise the urgency of developing comprehensive strategies and  decisive actions to rectify these disparities.


The national unemployment rate declined slightly, reflecting ongoing recovery efforts. While employment grew it still remains below pre-Covid-19 levels. Durban's economic rebound continues to face challenges due to high living costs and limited job opportunities with slight employment growth in the quarter. The City experienced a minor uptick in unemployment, attributed to an increase in active job seekers, while discouraged work seekers decreased. Events like Hollywoodbets Durban July added 1,500 jobs. While other City led initiatives as well as private investments resulted in the creation of new jobs.

Nonetheless, a substantial gender gap persists both in terms of the likelihood of woman finding employment as well as substantial disparities in pay and job progression. Women still face great obstacles to finding employment as well as starting new businesses.

Addressing these disparities requires comprehensive solutions, considering historical, economic,and structural factors. Overcoming occupational imbalances and unequal managerial representation is crucial for achieving gender equality in the job market, necessitating focused strategies and proactive measures.

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