Millions of jobs lost in South Africa due to coronavirus lockdown


South Africa’s coronavirus lockdown resulted in 2.2 million jobs lost in the second quarter of 2020, the authorities said. Restrictions were brought in to try and prevent the spread of the virus and the economy subsequently shrank at an unprecedented level.

South Africa was one of the first countries in the world to impose the strictest lockdowns, which at first included a ban on everything from dog walking to cigarette sales.

Most businesses were shut for five weeks from March 27 which resulted in the biggest fall in job numbers since the employment survey began in 2008.

The national statistics office’s figure for the number of people who have not been economically inactive indicated an even more dramatic economic decline.

Between March and June that figure increased by 5.3 million people to 20.5 million.

The official unemployment rate actually dropped in that quarter from 23.3% from 30.1% in the first quarter of 2020.

But this may just indicate that lockdown prevented people from looking for work.

The fall in the unemployment rate “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”, said the statistics office.

In May, South Africa introduced social relief of distress grants of 350 rand per month (US$21; UK£16) for people who are unemployed.

There have been 653,444 recorded cases of coronavirus in South Africa – the 10th highest in the world. More than 15,800 people have died.

The restrictions have been loosened gradually and from Sept. 20 an overnight curfew was reduced, gatherings were allowed at 50% of a venue’s capacity, and restrictions on the sale of alcohol were eased. (Source: BBC)