The Covid-19 lockdown restrictions pushed nearly 700 000 more people out of jobs in the second quarter, while slashing salaries for those that are employed. Picture : Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)
The Covid-19 lockdown restrictions pushed nearly 700 000 more people out of jobs in the second quarter, while slashing salaries for those that are employed. Picture : Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)

700 000 more out of jobs in second quarter

By Edward West Time of article published Oct 16, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - The Covid-19 lockdown restrictions pushed nearly 700 000 more people out of jobs in the second quarter, while slashing salaries for those that are employed.

Data from Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) yesterday showed that the restrictions devastated the economy, causing many businesses to permanently shut their doors or decrease their workforce. StatsSA said non-farm employment plummeted by 648000 during the quarter, with 541000 full time-employees losing their jobs quarter-on-quarter.

The agency said part-time employment decreased by 107000 or -10.4percent during the quarter. It also said gross earnings fell by a notable R82.2billion or -11.3percent quarter-on-quarter, with the business services and trade sectors experiencing declines of -R25.3bn and -R18.4bn respectively. Investec economist Lara Hodes said the financial consequences of the pandemic exacerbated inequalities present in the country. “Monetary and fiscal relief measures provided during this unprecedented time have helped to ease some of the burden on households,” Hodes said.

“However, the accelerated implementation of reformative interventions is imperative to boost confidence and in turn stimulate growth and job creation.” StatsSA said total employment fell by 648000 or -6.4percent in the second quarter to 9.55million, compared with the first.

Late last month StatsSA also released its Quarterly Labour Force Survey, showing 2.2million jobs were lost in the quarter, due to the impact of the Covid-19 lockdowns on the economy.

Yesterday President Cyril Ramaphosa presented the country’s economic recovery plan with a focus on infrastructure development programme, a R100bn employment stimulus programme, a localisation drive and industrial expansion should support the creation of more than 800000 jobs in the immediate-term.

StatsSA said its figures showed that the trading sector was hit the hardest, shedding 192000 jobs in the quarter. It said gross earnings fell by R64.1bn or -9 percent year-on-year.

The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of South Africa chief economist Michael Ade said the weak QES figures in manufacturing employment had been anticipated and ran counter to the government’s economic recovery plan.

“The galloping unemployment scourge will, no doubt, have extended socio-economic consequences as the increasing number of unemployed expend their severance packages and unemployment stipends from the unemployment insurance fund,” he said.

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