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'You're lucky if you still have a job' — SA reacts to latest unemployment figures

30 September 2020 - 11:58 By cebelihle bhengu
Stats SA on Tuesday said more than two million jobs were lost in the second quarter of 2020.
Stats SA on Tuesday said more than two million jobs were lost in the second quarter of 2020.

The latest quarterly labour force survey from Stats SA has garnered strong reaction from politicians and other South Africans as many questioned the “confusing” unemployment figures.

Stats SA on Tuesday said SA shed 2.2 million jobs in the second quarter during the lockdown. SA was forced to temporarily shut many companies considered non-essential service providers during lockdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus. The economy gradually reopened as the government eased lockdown regulations in June.

According to the report, unemployment decreased to 23.3% in the second quarter, from 30.1% in the first quarter. Stats SA explained that the number of unemployed people declined because fewer people were actively looking for work in the lockdown.

“To fall into the category of unemployed, people must be actively looking for work which wasn't possible during lockdown. These people, therefore, fall into the 'not economically active' category,” explained Stats SA.

It added that the number of “discouraged job seekers” decreased by 447,000. People who were not economically active, for reasons other than discouragement, increased by 5.6 million, according to the report.

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi questioned Stats SA's research methods.

“How can Stats SA still explain unemployment using categories such as 'actively looking for work' during Covid-19 lockdown? How can people actively look for work during lockdown?” he asked.

He added that it was ridiculous to decide who was or wasn't looking for a job under lockdown.

Former Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba claimed that the lockdown had left some in government rich, while millions of South Africans were left unemployed.

“While many in government have come out of lockdown as Covid-millionaires, two million more South Africans have come out of it without a job. That's over two million more South Africans who can't support their families,” he said.

On social media, many slammed the “reduced unemployment” statistics and called on president Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene.

Here's some of the reactions: