Image: Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) – Q1:2021
Image: Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) – Q1:2021

Third consecutive increase in unemployment since Covid-19 lockdown – Stats SA

By Kelly Jane Turner Time of article published Jun 1, 2021

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For the third consecutive time, unemployment in South Africa has increased. In the first quarter of 2021, it increased by 0.1 of a percentage point, reaching a new high of 32.6%.

Statistics South Africa released its Q1 Quarterly Labour Force Survey on Tuesday and revealed that around 28 000 people lost their jobs between the fourth quarter of 2020 and now.

“This is the third consecutive increase in unemployment since the Covid-19 national lockdown. However, it should be noted that during Q3: 2020, Q4: 2020 and Q1: 2021, the national lockdown regulations were relaxed, which allowed travelling, and this played a role in people actively looking for work, whereas during Q2: 2020 the country was under hard lockdown that prevented movement,” according to the Stats SA report.

The number of discouraged work-seekers in South Africa increased by 6.9% or 201 000 people.

“These minor changes resulted in the official unemployment rate increasing by 0.1 of a percentage point from 32.5% in the fourth quarter of 2020 to 32.6% in the first quarter of 2021 – the highest since the start of the QLFS in 2008,” read a Stats SA media release.

Image: Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) – Q1:2021

Of the 15 million persons who were employed in the first quarter of 2021, almost four out of every five persons (81.3%) were expected to work during the national lockdown by the companies they work for.

For those who had been employed during the Covid-19 national lockdown, around 14% reported they received reduced salaries.

While overall, the net decline of employment decreased by 28 000, some industries created jobs between quarter 4 of 2020 and quarter 1 of 2021. These include:

- Finance up by 215 000

- Community and Social Services 16 000

- Utilities 16 000

- Mining 12 000 and Manufacturing 7 000

Job losses were observed in:

- Construction 87 000

- Trade 84 000

- Private households 70 000

- Transport 40 000

- Agriculture 18 000

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