Coronavirus News Africa

South African jobless rate swells to 30.1%

A jobs protest in the North West last month.

South Africa’s official unemployment rate has risen to 30.1%, the highest rate in the past decade.

Statistics South Africa on Tuesday released its quarterly labour force survey for the first quarter of the 2020.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, SA’s unemployment rate was 29.1%, meaning it has increased by 1 percentage point. 

The number of unemployed persons increased to 7.1 million, while the number of employed persons decreased to 16.4 million.

Wile the lockdown instituted on March 26 to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus resulted in restricted in economic activity, the statistics for the first quarter only cover the first three months of the year.  

Treasury projects between 690 000 and 1.8 million job losses as a result of the pandemic, Fin24 previously reported. 

In recent weeks large corporates such as logistics and fleet management group Barloworld, mobile operator Cell C and troubled clothing retailer Edcon have launched retrenchment consultation processes.

“We expect further job shedding to have transpired toward the end of the first quarter amid the declaration of the pandemic as a national disaster on 15 March 2020,” FNB said in an economic note.

“In addition, the attrition of temporary retail employment from the festive season in the final quarter of last year may well have exacerbated the unemployment number,” the note read.

South Africa is not unique in this position, with the global economy set to contract as much as 5.2% according to the World Bank’s projections. Its global counterparts such as the US recording job losses exceeding levels recorded in the Great Depression, Reuters previously reported.

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