SA unemployment a humanitarian disaster – IRR

13 November 2020 - Years of policy failure, compounded by the lockdown restrictions of recent months, have left South Africa facing a humanitarian crisis of steadily rising unemployment.

Years of policy failure, compounded by the lockdown restrictions of recent months, have left South Africa facing a humanitarian crisis of steadily rising unemployment.
 
Results of the 3rd Quarter Labour Force Survey (QLFS) published by Stats SA yesterday pegged the country’s unemployment rate at 30.8% (43.1% on the expanded definition, which includes discouraged work seekers who have given up looking for jobs). This is the highest recorded since 2008.
 
Put differently, the figures show that only 51.5% of South Africans between 35 and 64 have a job, and only 57% between 15 and 34 are employed or are in education or training.
 
Only 2 in every 5 South Africans between 25 and 34 are employed.
 
The lockdown imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19 earlier this year delivered a body blow to the economy at a cost of millions of jobs – but, as data in the 2020 South Africa Survey published by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) shows, joblessness has been rising steadily since 2009.
In that year, 1.7 million people were classified as ‘new entrants’ (people who were unemployed during the reference period and had never worked before). A decade later, there were 2.5 million in this category.
In 2009, the number of people who were declared unemployed due to losing a job (by being laid off, or because a business was sold or closed down) was 1.5 million. In 2019, this figure had grown to more than 2 million.
 
Overall, joblessness has risen from 4.3 million in the 3rd Quarter of 2009 to 6.5 million.
 
The bigger picture makes it clear that the crisis, though it was compounded by the pandemic, long preceded the spread of Covid-19 infections.
 
By far the greatest threat to South Africans’ chances of getting a job and being able to put food on the table in millions of households across the country is the failure of government policy to the attract investment on which economic growth and job creation depend.
 
Key among these is the African National Congress’s reckless drive to introduce expropriation without compensation, thus undermining property rights and robbing investors of confidence in the South African economy.
 
The price is being paid by all South Africans.
 
Unemployment comes at great personal and social cost, not only to those bearing the brunt of the humanitarian disaster of joblessness at the scale South Africa is now experiencing, but to all of society whose hopes of a fair, stable and prospering society risk being dashed.

 
Media contact: Hermann Pretorius, IRR Deputy Head of Policy Research – 079 875 4290; hermann@irr.org.za
Media enquiries: Michael Morris Tel: 066 302 1968 Email: michael@irr.org.za
Kelebogile Leepile Tel: 079 051 0073 Email: kelebogile@irr.org.za
 

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