More than 2 million South Africans lost their jobs during lockdown

Stats SA has published its latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the second quarter of 2020, revealing that more than 2 million South Africans lost their jobs over the period.

The number of employed persons decreased by 2.2 million to 14.1 million, Stats SA said. It added that the number of unemployed people also decreased by 2.8 million to 4.3 million over the quarter.

However, it is important to note that Stats SA does not label those who are not employed and are not actively looking for a job as unemployed. Instead, these people are labelled as “Discouraged work seekers” and form part of the “Not Economically Active (NEA)” category.

The number of people classified as “not economically active” increased by 5.6 million.

“In spite of this massive decline in employment, the number of discouraged work-seekers, like the number of unemployed, decreased by 447,000,” Stats SA said.

“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.”

This is illustrated in the graph below:

Stats SA Q2 2020

Official unemployment rate

The official unemployment rate has declined over the period, according to Stats SA, from 30.1% in Q1 2020 to 23.3% in Q2 2020. This is the lowest unemployment rate recorded since Q3 2009.

It is important to note, however, that the official unemployment rate is calculated using the number of persons who are employed and unemployed, and does not include discouraged work-seekers or people who are not economically active.

“However, the expanded unemployment rate increased by 2.3 percentage points in Q2 2020 compared to Q1 2020, reflective of the fact that people were available for work but did not actively look for work,” Stats SA said.

“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.”

“When asked why they did not look for work, most people cited the national lockdown / COVID-19 / coronavirus as the main reason for not actively looking for work,” it said.

The decrease unemployment rate is illustrated below:

Lockdown factors

Stats SA noted that many people did not look for work due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

“When asked why they did not look for work, most people cited the national lockdown / COVID-19 / coronavirus as the main reason for not actively looking for work,” it said.

Of the 14.2 million people who were employed during the quarter, 58.1% were expected to work during the national lockdown by the companies they work for.

There were 173,000 employed persons who were expected to work during the national lockdown but could not do any work during that period.

“About 76.3% cited the national lockdown as the main reason for not actually working while the rest indicated that they did not work due to health reasons (10.2%); family responsibility (3.5%); or shift work arrangements (10.0%),” Stats SA said.

11.5 million employed people continued to receive pay during the lockdown, and around one in five had a reduction in their pay during the period.

“Almost 9 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,” Stats SA said.

Those who were employed during the national lockdown were also asked if they will be returning to the same job after lockdown and 94.5% indicated that they will.

Stats SA Q2 2020 3

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More than 2 million South Africans lost their jobs during lockdown