Unemployment rises to 32.5 percent in the last three months of 2020
Stats SA says the number of employed persons increased to 15 million.
Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke says South Africa's unemployment rate rose to 32.5 percent in the last three months of 2020.
The increase presents a 1.7 percentage point increase from the third quarter of 2020.
Stats SA fourth quarter Labour Force Survey (QLFS) released on 23 February said the Quarter 4 results show that the number of employed persons increased by 333,000 to 15 million. However, during the same period, the number of unemployed persons increased by 701,000 to 7.2 million compared to Quarter 3:2020, resulting in an increase of one million (up by 4.9 percent).
During the quarter, the ranks of discouraged work-seekers increased by 235,000 while the number of people not economically active for reasons other than discouragement, decreased by 1.1 million between the two quarters, resulting in a net decrease of 890,000 in the not economically active population.
The QLFS said the movement was proportionately more towards the unemployed than for the employed, which resulted in a significant increase of 1.7 percentage points in the official unemployment rate to 32.5 percent – the highest since the start of the QLFS in 2008.
“The unemployment rate according to the expanded definition of unemployment decreased by 0.5 of a percentage point to 42.6 percent in Quarter 4: 2020 compared to Quarter 3: 2020,” says the report.
Even with this, employment increased in all sectors in the quarter.
“Formal sector employment increased by 189,000 (1.8 percent); informal sector employment by 65,000 (2.6 percent); private households by 76,000 (6.8 percent), and employment in agriculture increased by 2,000 (0.3 percent). Employment increased in all industries, except finance and mining. The industries which gained the most jobs were community and social services (170,000) and construction (86,000),” said Maluleke.
Stats SA said most job losses were observed in finance, which shed 256,000 jobs, community and social services with 241,000 jobs and manufacturing, which lost 230,000 jobs.
As with Quarter 2 and 3 of 2020, additional questions were included in the Quarter 4:2020 questionnaire, to capture changes brought about by the national lockdown.
The national statistics agency said results indicate that of the 15 million persons who were employed in Quarter 4: 2020, almost eight out of 10 people (78.3 percent) were expected to work during the national lockdown by the companies/organisations they work for.
The report reveals that about nine out of 10 people employed within the construction industry who worked during the lockdown were men. “Those who actually worked were predominantly men in most industries, except in the community and social services sector and private households, where the majority were women,” said Stats SA.
Compared to the third quarter of 2020, where 10.9 percent indicated that they worked from home, this proportion declined to eight percent in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Working from home was more prevalent in Gauteng and the Western Cape and among professionals and managers. The majority of those in employment continued to receive pay during the lockdown. However, those with lower levels of education were more likely to receive reduced salaries than those with higher levels of education.