Policy Implications for a Mobile Workforce: Transport Costs as a Barrier to Employment

9 December 2018

This case study of South Africa explores the mismatch between residential location and economic opportunities as an important factor in determining workers’ economic participation and unemployment rates.

South Africa suffers from staggering unemployment rates, particularly among the youth, and this report seeks to analyse the factors driving this issue.

There are several reasons for the country’s unemployment crisis. These include a mismatch between the abundance of low-skilled labour and the scarcity of high-skilled jobs, substandard quality of education, a limited informal job sector, and labour laws that arguably restrict employment growth. Another pivotal factor that the report highlights is spatial mismatch. This has its roots in the apartheid, during which black labour was segregated from economic hubs. The authors argue that this spatial disconnect exacerbates unemployment rates, primarily due to inadequate transportation options for economically excluded populations residing on the outskirts of cities.

Empirical data highlights the significance of transportation costs as a substantial hurdle for young job seekers in South Africa. The report reveals that these costs can consume a significant portion of the incomes of those with lower earnings, and are prohibitively high for the unemployed. Such financial strain acts as a barrier to accessing job opportunities.

The report calls on policymakers to address these intertwined issues. It highlights the need for comprehensive reforms, collaboration between various sectors, and improved infrastructure to create a more equitable job market, particularly for disadvantaged youth.

This report was featured as a chapter in “People on the Move: Advancing the Discourse on Migration & Jobs“- a joint report co-authored by the global partners of JustJobs Network.