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Survey looks at effect of Covid-19 on employment

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The percentage of respondents who reported no income increased from 5.2% before the lockdown to 15.4% by the sixth week of the national lockdown, said Stats SA.

A STATISTICS South Africa (Stats SA) survey has revealed that 8.1% of its respondents lost jobs or closed businesses as a consequence of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The survey, titled Wave 2, studied the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on employment and income in South Africa. Stats SA released the findings on Wednesday. The survey was conducted between April 29 and May 6.

According to the report, almost nine in 10 (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% 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%),” stated the report.

The percentage of respondents who reported no income increased from 5.2% before the lockdown to 15.4% by the sixth week of the national lockdown, said Stats SA.

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,” Stats SA said.

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%).

Stats SA said 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 10 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,” said Stats SA. 

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% 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 the 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 10 (11.4%) reported experiencing hunger, indicating that the loss of income may further increase food insecurity in the country.