Unemployment levels have been high in South Africa for many decades, despite periods of relatively high economic growth in the mid-1980s, mid-1990s and mid-2000s. Since the country's first democratic elections in 1994 there has been debate about the failure of national policy frameworks to increase employment substantially and reduce unemployment. Attention is being focused on municipal government's role in tackling persistent high levels of unemployment beyond the economic growth-oriented local economic development strategies favoured by most of the larger city administrations. This paper explores recent responses to employment related challenges by the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality in Durban. It suggests that despite their firm commitment to increasing employment, municipal authorities see their role as secondary to national programmes. It is observed, however, that growing attention is being paid to employment creation outside traditional LED programmes.