JOHANNESBURG - The number of employed persons in South Africa decreased by 2.2 million in the second quarter to 14.1 million compared to the first quarter of this year as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) said this unprecedented change was the largest quarter one to quarter two decline since the survey began in 2008.
According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the second quarter, employment losses were observed across all industries.
The largest employment decreases were observed in the formal sector, which accounts for 71.1 percent of total employment, with 1.2m jobs lost.
This was followed by the informal sector at 640 000 jobs, the private households with 311 000 jobs and the agricultural sector with 66 000 jobs.
The expanded definition, which includes those discouraged and those having other reasons for not searching, increased by 2.3 percentage points to 42 percent.
The QLFS report also showed that 20.6m people aged 15-64 years were not economically active in the second quarter, an increase of 5.2m quarter-on-quarter.
According to the report, unemployment amongst black African population remained higher than the national average and other population groups.
Despite the massive decline in employment, the number of discouraged work-seekers decreased by 447 000, and the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement increased by 5.6m between the two quarters.
Stats SA said this resulted in a net increase of 5.2m in the not economically active population.
The statistics agency said almost all of the 5.2m people who did not look for work for reasons other than discouragement indicated “national lockdown” as the main reason for not looking for work.
These changes resulted in a significant decrease of 6.8 percentage points in the official unemployment rate from 30.1 percent in the first quarter to 23.3 percent in the second quarter.
“This is the lowest rate recorded since the third quarter of 2009,” Stats SA said.
“This sharp fall in the unemployment rate in the second quarter is not a reflection of an improvement in the labour market but rather an effect of the national lockdown, since the official definition of unemployment requires that people look for work and are available for work.”