Statistics South Africa released its Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for Q4 2020 and it does not make for good reading. This as the research entity reports that a further 701 000 jobs were lost in the quarter, pushing the number of unemployed people in South Africa to 7.2 million.

It represents an increase of 4.9 percent compared to the previous quarter, as Stats SA says the number of employed people in the country rose to 15 million.

With the 2020 Matric exam results being released this week, and learners now scrambling to find any form of tertiary education they can, the latest figures do little to instil confidence that they too will soon be added to the increasing number of unemployed people.

Perhaps an even more disheartening statistic is that the number of discouraged work seekers increased by 235 000 during the quarter, representing an increase of 8.7 percent.

It should also be noted that as a result of the continued lockdown, Stats SA was only able to capture information telephonically based on the most up to date records and contact numbers it had, so the situation may be even more dire that what is currently being reported by the organisation.

As the pandemic and lockdown continue, it is looking more and more likely that the unemployment rate in the country will continue to increase for some time. It therefore places added pressure on an effective COVID-19 vaccine rollout in SA so that more people have the chance to apply for work or return to industries that have been directly impacted as a result of the coronavirus, such as tourism.

It also looks as if remote working or working from home may not be having the desired effect, with Stats SA reporting that, “working from home was more prevalent in Gauteng and Western Cape and among Professionals and Managers.”

“Compared to the 3rd quarter of 2020 where 10,9% indicated that they worked from home, this proportion declined to 8,0% in the 4th quarter of 2020,” the report adds.

Unfortunately Stats SA could not give any insight into how this situation can be turned around, as it is not their purview, with that burden now falling on government, as the country anxiously awaits solutions to its growing unemployment problem.

You can read a summarised version of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for Q4 2020, here (PDF).

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