How COVID has impacted Unemployment in South Africa
How COVID has impacted Unemployment in South Africa
News
By Doniella Brandt on Sep 7th 2021
News
By Doniella Brandt on Sep 7th 2021

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has had a significant influence on the economy. It has not only lead to a growing inflation rate but also to the closure of many businesses and the loss of available jobs. The impact has been felt by most South Africans whether it be from the loss of loved ones or the loss of employment.

Business Closures

Statistics South Africa recorded over 2,000 business closures by the end of 2020 and an additional 997 between January and June 2021. These numbers alone paint a clear picture of the rising unemployment in South Africa.

Restrictions: Operating Hours and Clients

Besides the hard lockdowns where many sectors were forced to stay closed, the restrictions on operating hours added to the pressure for these businesses to survive. For example, the Restaurant industry needed to be at full capacity to be able to revive what they lost during the hard lockdown levels. However, when they were able to open again they had strict operating hours and a restriction on the number of clients allowed at a time. The reasons for this is sensible, however, the negative impact has been lasting. This is the same for many other businesses who ended up either retrenching employees or closing their doors completely.

Youth Unemployment

Statistics

For the first quarter of 2021, the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) found that the official unemployment rate for South Africa stood at 32.6%. Among this rate, the youth, aged 15 - 34 years, accounted for 46.3%. This means that nearly one in every two young persons are unemployed.

This number merely includes the youth that is actively looking for employment. In the case of the total number of unemployed persons in South Africa, the youth accounts for a staggering rate of 59.5%. This includes the youth that is not studying, not in training, or who are discouraged from looking for employment.

Failing Educations System

One reason given for the lack of employment among youth is a perceived failure on the part of our education system. According to Government Communications, our education system is not producing the necessary skills needed for our labour market. They also state that a lack of good education and productivity is part of the reason for the rising rate of unemployment in South Africa. The added pressure of COVID-19 on the education system has certainly not helped in this matter.

Online Opportunities

There has been an array of new opportunities arising in the online market. Digital seems to be the way forward. From work-from-home opportunities, freelance gigs, online training and study options, to e-commerce websites there is no shortage of new and interesting opportunities.

There has been some migration to online employment as there are many freelance opportunity websites for both full time and part-time opportunities. However, these opportunities are limited to those who have steady access to internet facilities.

Discouraged Workers

Statistics on Discouraged Job Seeking

From the fourth quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021 the number of discouraged work-seekers rose from 2.9 million to a staggering 3.1 million. This amounts to 200 000 people in the course of three months. That number alone says a lot about the rise of hopelessness among South Africans during this time.

Reasons for Discouragement

These statistics are likely influenced by many factors, however, I would like to focus on three in particular. Namely, safety reasons, mental health impacts, and the unsuccessful job-seeking experience

The first factor brought to our attention during this pandemic has been the focus on health and safety. There have been many regulations put in place to enforce the health and safety of South Africans during this time. It is exactly for this reason that many businesses have closed and also why many people have been trying to stay out of harms way by limiting their exposure to the outside world. In order to secure their safety, as well as those of their loved ones, many people are not ready to take on the risk of working in public spaces.

For this same want, and also lack, of security many people have experienced a decrease in their mental health. Besides the loss of loved ones, social isolation has also not impacted our mental health in a positive way. As we all know, humans are social beings and require interactions with others. The hard lockdown and decrease in socialisation have caused many to feel isolated and hopeless in their experiences. This hopelessness has led to a decrease in motivation and caused many to become discouraged in their search for employment.

Lastly, and most likely the most evident factor is the lack of access to available opportunities as well as rising job searching costs. People are desperate and have been looking for employment for months on end, with no success. This is enough to discourage anyone. The rising unemployment has, in effect, caused a rise in discouragement from those actively looking for employment.

The purpose of this information is not to create more discouragement among those still hoping for better. Our aim at JOBJACK is to show that we understand the struggle you are going through and we want to do our best to assist you in overcoming these challenges.

The purpose of this information is not to create more discouragement among those still hoping for better. Our aim at JOBJACK is to show that we understand the struggle you are going through and we want to do our best to assist you in overcoming these challenges.