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

27th June 2018

By: Africa Check

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UPDATE: This report was retracted on 25 June 2018 following concerns that important context had not been included. It has since been updated to include comment on the “confusing” nature of the claim. It was republished on 26 June 2018. The previous headline read: “Yes, Western Cape created 75% of South Africa’s new jobs in past year”. The original verdict of “correct” remains the same. As signatories to the International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers’ code of principles we will always update our reports transparently.

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

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“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.

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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.

Researched by Gopolang Makou, Africa Check, a non-partisan fact-checking organisation. View the original piece on their website

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