Just as the structure of economy of the Free State is tracking that of the national economy, the labour market in the province also shadows the national labour market. This is indicated by the province’s unemployment rate of 26.4% against the national unemployment rate 25.5% reported in the Stats SA Labour Force Survey of March 2007. In contrast though with other provinces like Western Cape and Gauteng, the province has lower labour costs – an advantage the country has in terms of unit labour costs when compared to other emerging economies.
The economy of the Free State province has historically being carried mainly by two sectors namely agriculture and mining, with the latter providing the greatest proportion of jobs. The developing economy of the province has since seen its structure shadow that of the national economy. Sectors like manufacturing and certainly services have begun to be more noticeable in the labour market.
From the estimated population of 2.7 million, the province claims the labour force participation rate to be 60.8% of the economically active population in 2007. In terms of the labour skill level composition, 2007 LFS indicates highly skilled level constitutes 12%.2; skilled level 34% and the semi-skilled level 53.7%. The province’s main economic sectors’ share of employment typically follows the performance of a sector. The following indicates some of the sectors’ contribution to employment in the province: