A Snapshot of COVID-19 Related Unemployment in South Africa

Economic Consulting | Financial Services

October 13, 2020

"Record Unemployment Rise"

COVID-19 and the consequent economic effects have meant significant job losses for the people of South Africa. Many families have been affected, and our future generation (the youth) are affected both immediately and in the long run.

The impact of COVID-19 on access to education has been significant and disproportionately affected learners in poorer households. This immediate effect will have long-term consequences, which, coupled with the direct employment effects of COVID-19, are concerning.


Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) published results from the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the second quarter of 2020 (QLFS 2020 Q2) which largely captures the employment during the most stringent period of lockdown in South Africa. In addition, the National Income Dynamics Study’s Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (CRAM)1 launched Wave 2 of its study focusing on the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19. These datasets provide important information on the state of employment and welfare in South Africa as we navigate the global pandemic.

In this short article, we provide a snapshot of some of the metrics that we as economists frequently work with, set out systematically to explain the background to South Africa’s socio-economic context, and where we are now or soon likely to be as a result of the COVID-19 downturn.

Our Objective

Our objective is to sketch the context in which the employment and socioeconomic impact of the pandemic will play out in the South African labour market, rather than to comment on unemployment as a long-term feature of the economy.

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