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SA’s unemployment figures not shocking given state of economy, says Cosatu

Stats SA on Tuesday said the country’s unemployment rate declined to 23.3% between April and June from 30.1% in the quarter before.

FILE: Cosatu members strike against the country’s high unemployment and the unbundling of Eskom on 13 February 2019. Picture: @_cosatu/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG – As South Africans continue to unpack the latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey data, there is growing skepticism about how the figures are being portrayed.

Stats SA on Tuesday said the figures showed the country’s unemployment rate declined to 23.3% between April and June from 30.1% in the quarter before.

However, the figures showed that 2.2 million people actually lost their jobs in the period under review.

Stats SA explained that this was largely due to the definition of unemployment as millions of South Africans were stuck in their homes during the lockdown.

But the expanded definition showed unemployment was actually around 42%.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said the unemployment figures were not at all shocking given the state of the country.

The GDP data for the second quarter showed that the country’s economy shrunk by 16.4%.

“This is very alarming considering that now up to 14 million people of working age are unemployed. Many of them are women and young people,” said Cosatu’s spokesperson Sizwe Pamla.

Meanwhile, the Freedom Front Plus described the figures as misleading and inaccurate as the definition of the official unemployment rate was limited to people not actively looking for jobs, which would have been impossible during levels 5 and 4 of the national lockdown.

In the Quarterly Labour Force Survey publication, Stats SA addressed this further, explaining that it had to suspend face-to-face data collection due to the COVID-19 pandemic – which also led to changes in the survey mode of collection – while estimates were not based on a full sample in comparison to previous quarters.

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