2.2-million jobs lost in Q2 during lockdown - but overall employment improves

29 September 2020 - 14:18
Contrary to expectations, the number of unemployed people in SA declined substantially in the second quarter, says Stats SA.
Contrary to expectations, the number of unemployed people in SA declined substantially in the second quarter, says Stats SA.
Image: Gallo Images / City Press / Herman Verwey

Stats SA says 2.2-million jobs were lost in the second quarter of 2020 during the lockdown.

But despite this, overall unemployment fell from 30.1% in the first quarter to 23.3% in the second quarter.

Stats SA released its latest quarterly labour force survey on Tuesday. The survey indicated that the number of employed people decreased by 2.2-million to 14.1-million in the second quarter of 2020 — during the lockdown — when compared to the first quarter of 2020.

“This unprecedented change is the largest Q1 to Q2 decline since the survey began in 2008. Contrary to what one would expect in the face of such a large decline in employment, the number of unemployed people declined substantially as well.

“The number of discouraged work seekers, like the number of unemployed, decreased by 447,000. The majority of those who moved out of these three categories moved into the category of not economically active for reasons other than discouragement, which increased by 5.6-million between the two quarters,” said the report.

The official unemployment rate is calculated using the number of people who are employed and unemployed, and does not include discouraged work seekers, according to the report.

“The unemployment rate according to the expanded definition increased in all provinces except in the Free State, where it decreased by 3.3 percentage points. The largest increase was recorded in the Northern Cape [up by 5.1 percentage points], followed by the Eastern Cape [up by 3.9 percentage points]. When asked why they did not look for work, most people cited the national lockdown/Covid-19 as the main reason for not actively looking for work.

“This phenomenon of a greater increase in inactivity than in unemployment is not unique to SA,” reads the report.

According to the report, of the 14.2-million people who were employed in the second quarter, more than half were expected to work during the national lockdown by the companies they work for.

“There were 11.5-million employed people who continued to receive pay during the lockdown. About one in five of the employed had a reduction in their salary during the lockdown. There seems to be some relationship between the level of education and reduction in salary.

“Those with higher education had better chances of receiving a full salary than those with less education. Almost nine in every 10 employed graduates (89.7%) continued to receive a full salary, compared to 75.2% of those with less than matric as their highest level of education.

“Those who were employed during the lockdown were asked if they would be returning to the same job after lockdown and 94.5% indicated that they would; 2% indicated that they would not; and 3.5% were not sure,” said the report.

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