Unemployment rate in SA increases to 32.5%

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On Tuesday, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) released the results of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the fourth quarter of 2020. Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke announced that the country’s unemployment rate has risen to 32.5%.

“The results of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the fourth quarter of 2020
show that the number of employed persons increased by 333 000 to 15,0 million in the fourth quarter of 2020, and the number of unemployed persons also increased by
701 000 to 7,2 million compared to the third quarter of 2020, resulting in an increase
of 1,0 million (up by 4,9%) in the number of people in the labour force,” Stats SA reports.

“The number of discouraged work-seekers increased by 235 000 (8,7%), and the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement decreased by 1,1 million (7,4%) between the two quarters, resulting in a net decrease of 890 000 in the not economically active population,” they add.

Employment increased in the following sectors:

  • Formal sector employment increased by 189 000 (1,8%)
  • Informal sector employment by 65 000 (2,6%)
  • Private households by 76 000 (6,8%)
  • Agriculture increased by 2 000 (0,3%)

The Community and social services and Construction industries gained the most jobs at 170 000 and 86 000 respectively.

According to the QLFS, the industries that saw the biggest job losses includes Finance (256 000), Community and social services (241 000) and Manufacturing (230 000).

Stats SA says that additional questions were included in the questionnaire to observe the effects of the national lockdown.

“The results indicate that, of the 15 million persons who were employed in quarter 4 2020, almost eight out of ten people (78,3%) were expected to work during the national
lockdown by the companies/organisations they work for,” Stats SA reports.

Compared to the third-quarter results, fewer people worked from home as the results declined from 10.9% to 8%. Gauteng and the Western Cape were named as the provinces where working from home was more prevalent.

It is also reported that working from home was more prevalent among professionals and managers.

Stats SA says that the unemployment rate has been the highest since the starts of the QLFS in 2008.