Stats SA has released its latest report on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment in South Africa.
The report cites data from a “wave 2 survey” which collated responses from 2,688 South African residents aged 18 and older.
The data was collected between 29 April and 6 May 2020, which coincides with the second phase of South Africa’s national lockdown.
69.5% of respondents said they were in paid employment before the national lockdown, and 15.3% of respondents were self-employed.
“Almost nine in ten (89.5%) of those who were employed before the national lockdown, remained employed during the lockdown, 8.1% reported that they lost their jobs or had to close their businesses, and 1.4% became unemployed,” Stats SA said.
“The national lockdown was the main reason most respondents (63.6%) were temporarily absent from work, while just over one-third (34.1%) indicated that they were not at work due to own ill-health and 2.3% were absent due to other reasons.”
Almost 70% of those lost their jobs reported this was due to their workplace shutting down or due to a lack of customers.
“Before the national lockdown, the majority of respondents indicated that they had worked from non-residential buildings, while only 1.4% of those in employment worked from home,” Stats SA said.
“However, the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a change where 77.9% of those who worked during the national lockdown, did so from home compared to 15.1% who worked from non-residential buildings.”
Employment situation during lockdown
The graph below shows the employment situation of all respondents during the national lockdown.
Decrease in income
Many South Africans also reported a decline in their income, the report stated, with only 67.5% of respondents stating that their income remained the same.
“For those who had jobs during the lockdown, income stayed the same as before the lockdown for 67.5% of them, and 21.3% indicated reduced income,” Stats SA said.
“Less than 1.0% indicated that their income increased, while 8.2% highlighted that it was too soon to tell if their income was going to change or not.”
30% of South Africans also stated that their work hours had been reduced since the implementation of the lockdown.
In terms of job security, 47% of employed respondents believed they would not lose their jobs or close their businesses during the lockdown, 15.6% were unsure, 4% believed they would lose their jobs, and 33.3% did not specify their position.
Stats SA found that the national lockdown not only limited the movement of people, but it also put new financial pressures on individuals in the country.
“Economic activity in the country on non-essential goods and services came to a standstill which had a knock-on effect on the income generation ability of the population,” the report said.
“This negative impact on income (combined with limitations on movement) could have also impacted on South Africans’ ability to access food.”
The graphs below show the changes in income caused by the national lockdown in South Africa.