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Almost a third of South Africans now without work due to lockdown

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Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) on Tuesday released the results of its quarterly workforce survey. According to the latest survey, 7.1 million South Africans, or 30.1%, do not work. This is an increase of 344 000 compared to the last quarter of last year, when this figure stood at 29.1%.

At this stage, 7.1 million South Africans are looking for jobs, compared to the 4.6 million people who were looking for jobs in the first quarter of 2017, Statistician Risenga Maluleka said on Tuesday.

Another almost 3 million people have, for other reasons, partly because they have no hope of getting a job – already stopped looking for jobs, bringing South Africa’s number of unemployed to 10.8 million.

According to Maluleka, it is common for the unemployment rate to increase between the last quarter of a year and the first quarter of the following year – and more and more people are experiencing it firsthand.

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic may only cause further major shocks.

According to StatsSA, the decrease in job opportunities can largely be attributed to a decrease in those working in the formal sector and the agricultural industry. These two industries had 50,000 and 21,000 fewer jobs, respectively. However, there was an increase in job opportunities in the informal industry and in private households during this time.

Most industries experienced job losses in the first quarter when compared to the last quarter of last year.

The financial industry experienced the most job losses (50 000), followed by community and social services (33 000), agriculture (21 000), transport (17 000), manufacturing (15 000), the construction industry (7 000) and utilities (4,000).

The number of people who were discouraged from looking for work increased by 63 000 and those who no longer looked for work for other reasons decreased by 222 000, a net increase of 107 000 people who are not economically active.

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