The results of StatsSA’s Q4 Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) indicate that the unemployment rate in Durban has dropped by 4.2% to 17.6% in Q4 of 2022, from 21.8% in Q3 2022. This means that 22.6% of the labour force was unemployed in 2022 on average, slightly less than in 2021 (22.8%).
There were 79 000 fewer unemployed people in Durban in the last quarter of 2022. However, the drop in unemployed people was not driven by an increase in jobs in Durban. On the contrary, there was a large increase in the number of people who dropped out of the labour force (73 000), either due to giving up hope of finding work and not searching (and therefore not being counted) or becoming strictly economically inactive.
By Q4 of 2022 there were 310 000 people in Durban who were unemployed but had abandoned hope of finding a job, and 262 000 unemployed people actively looking for work. Apart from during strict lockdown, this is the first time in Durban there have been more of the former than the latter. At the national level, job losses were highest in the community services, agriculture and construction sectors. Various challenges may have contributed to this at the City level, including incessant loadshedding (a trend which would explain job losses noted in other metros), and an ailing economy. Similar to Cape Town, Durban also battled failing infrastructure at beaches throughout the City, resulting in fewer (just shy of 100 000 less) people visiting the City over the festive season, due to fears over e.coli infection.
However, more efforts are needed to expand the job market and ensure the downward trend in the unemployment rate does not reverse and peak up again. The large number of people that dropped out of the workforce is an indication that the economy isn’t growing fast enough to accommodate the increasing population. The workforce has not changed in terms of skills compared to pre-pandemic times. There needs to be prioritisation in the enhancement of knowledge and skills development so that the unemployed; and in particular the youth can be ready to take advantage of job opportunities in the labour market.