Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) has announced that the official unemployment rate has increased by 1.0 percentage point to 30.1% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.

Stats SA data further indicates that the number of employed persons decreased by 38 000 to 16. 4 million, while the number of unemployed persons increased by 344 000 to 7 million in the first quarter of this year, compared to the fourth quarter last year.

The largest employment decreases were observed in the formal sector followed by the agricultural sector.

Employment in the informal sector and private households increased by 3 000 and 30 000 respectively.

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‘Job loss tsunami’

Labour Analyst, Terry Bell says a jobs bloodbath is on the cards for South Africa in the coming months. This as Statistics South Africa prepares to release the Quarterly Labour Survey numbers for the first quarter of this year.

In his weekly open letter to the public, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that a number of countries are facing a job loss tsunami as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bell says a greater number of job losses can be expected in the retail and services sectors with the lowest-paid workers being the worst affected.

“There’s going to be a bit of a jobs blood bath partly because of what happened because of the reactions to the lockdown and COVID-19. People have already announced certain areas of job losses, SABC even, 600 jobs going there, 22 000 here, 70 000 there. I think a lot is going to come in the retail industry and in the services industry, particularly, restaurants that are closed, 2 000 restaurants are said to have closed, and many of them are never going to open again.”

SOEs on retrenchment path

Job losses are not only in the private sector, but State-Owned Enterprises like SAA, SA Express, and SABC are on a retrenchment path. President Cyril Ramaphosa has acknowledged that it is unfortunately the youth that will bear the brunt of being left jobless as SABC’s Samkele Maseko reports:

Unemployments stats (Text)