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3 million people became unemployed between February and April

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The data found 17 million people were employed in February, but only 14 million people were employed in April.

File picture: Pexels
CAPE TOWN – Employment between February and April 2020 fell by 3 million people, mostly low-income earners, according to a NIDS-CRAM (National Income Dynamic Study Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey) released on Wednesday.

NIDS-CRAM is the only ongoing panel study of labour-market dynamics over time in South Africa. 

“We believe the high-level trends evident…are indicative of underlying labour-market dynamics,” the report noted.

The 3 million people represented an 18 percent decline in employment between February and April 2020, the survey showed: 

The data found 17 million people were employed in February, but only 14 million people were employed in April.

The survey involved a short 20 minute telephone survey and so some relevant questions were not asked. 

This meant, for example, that it was not possible to estimate the change in unemployment rate between February and April, one could only estimate the fraction of the sample who had a job.

In addition, traditional definitions of employment did not account for the large number of furloughed workers and temporary layoffs.

The survey found one in three income earners in February, did not earn an income in April: The proportion of adults who earned an income in February declined by 33 percent, which was made up of an about equal share of those who lost their job, and those who were furloughed.

Job losses were disproportionately concentrated among already disadvantaged groups in the labour market:

“Women, manual workers and those at the bottom half of the income distribution suffered disproportionately higher rates of job loss.” 
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