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 34%, reported in the Free State Provincial Economic Review and Outlook (PERO) 2013, against the national unemployment rate of 25.5% reported in the Stats SA Labour Force Survey of March 2007. In contrast 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 biggest employer in the Free State is community services (28%) followed by trade (19%), households (14%) and agriculture at 13%. The smallest employers are mining at 5%, construction (4%), transport (4%) and electricity (1%).
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.