Statistics South Africa on respondents losing jobs or businesses due to Coronavirus Covid-19 Lockdown

20 May 2020

8,1% of respondents lost jobs or had to close

8,1% of respondents reported that they lost their jobs or had to close their businesses and 1,4% became unemployed, according to the Wave 2 survey on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment and income in South Africa released by Statistics South Africa. According to the report, almost nine in ten (89,5%) respondents who were employed before the national lockdown remained employed during the lockdown.

The survey also found a decrease in the proportion of respondents who usually derive their income from salaries and wages, as well as from own business during the lockdown. On the other hand, the results indicated an increase in the proportion of those who derived their incomes from savings and investments (increasing from 4,8% prior to the lockdown to 6,0% during the lockdown), loans from friends, family and/or businesses (increasing from 1,7% to 3,3%), and claims from UIF (increasing from 0,3% to 2,1%). The percentage of respondents who reported no income increased from 5,2% before the lockdown to 15,4% by the sixth week of national lockdown.

The survey further indicated that about a quarter of respondents (25,8%) reported that their incomes decreased during the national lockdown, while over half (56,2%) said that their income had stayed the same. Approximately one-third of respondents (33,4%) reported that COVID-19 and the national lockdown will have no impact on their ability to cover their financial obligations, while 18,7% and 18,2% of respondents indicated that it would have a major or moderate impact, respectively.

Most respondents who reported that their income reduced during the lockdown indicated that they reduced their spending during lockdown as a coping mechanism (74,9%). Other coping mechanisms that respondents used to compensate for the loss of income included accessing their savings (51,7%), relying on extended family members, friends and their communities (36,8%), and claiming from UIF (14,6%).

An overwhelming majority of respondents (67,7%) reported that they are more concerned about the potential long-term impact the COVID-19 pandemic would have on their financial situation compared to 12,3% of respondents who reported being more concerned about the short-term impact. Roughly one in ten respondents (10,5%) reported that it was too soon to tell whether they were more concerned about the long- or short-term impact of the virus.

Before the national lockdown, the majority of respondents (95,6%) indicated that they had worked from non-residential buildings, while only 1,4% of those in employment worked from home. However, the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a change where 77,9% of those who worked during the national lockdown did so from home, compared to 15,1% who worked from non-residential buildings.

Most of the respondents (60,5%) indicated that they will be returning to their jobs after the national lockdown. Just over 5% indicated they are not sure whether or not they would be returning and 1,0% were certain that they would not be returning to the same job/business. Only a small proportion of respondents (5,4%) who reported owning a small registered business indicated that they had received financial relief from government.

Since the start of the national lockdown, the proportion of respondents who reported experiencing hunger increased from 4,3% to 7,0% as compared to the month prior to the lockdown. Amongst respondents who reported that their income had decreased during the lockdown, more than one in ten (11,4%) reported experiencing hunger, indicating that the loss of income may further increase food insecurity in the country.

Editor’s note:

The Wave 2 survey conducted by Stats SA between 29 April and 6 May 2020 aimed to measure the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent national lockdown have had on the employment, income and hunger situation of individual South Africans aged 18 years and older. The survey was implemented using a web-based collection method and is based on a non-probability, convenience sample meaning that the results cannot be generalized to the entire South African population.

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