President Cyril Ramaphosa has appealed to South Africans to work together to ensure a rapid increase in employment following the release of the latest employment figures.
“Now is the time for all South Africans to pull together and grow South Africa,” he said.
Stats SA released the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) on Tuesday, revealing that 2.2 million people lost their jobs in the second quarter of 2020.
“Our success in responding to this unprecedented crisis will be measured by the speed of our labour market recovery.
“In addition to the relief measures we have already implemented, we must ensure that every job lost during the crisis is replaced and that more jobs are created so that we can meaningfully reduce unemployment,” said Ramaphosa.
Following broad agreement among social partners at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) on which key actions need to be taken to revive the economy, Cabinet is finalising a programme to aid the return to growth and a revival of employment in the country.
Ramaphosa said that the necessary measures such as structural changes and investments in infrastructure are needed to grow the economy.
This, the President said, will play a huge role in supporting the recovery of the labour market in the medium term.
While the job market starts its long journey to recovery, the government says it will keep expanding its programmes to keep people employed and nurture livelihoods.
“Implementation of the Presidential Employment Stimulus will soon commence to rapidly scale up public and social employment and support job protection in vulnerable sectors.
“Government’s historic economic and social relief package has been vital in shielding companies, workers and households from the worst effects of the pandemic,” said Ramaphosa.
To cushion the blow, the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has paid out more than R43 billion in temporary relief to more than four million workers, in an effort to keep more businesses open and prevent more people losing their jobs.
Another 16 million South Africans have also received social protection during the lockdown to counteract the devastating effects of Covid-19.
Other countries have also seen both a sharp increase in unemployment and a spike in economic inactivity because of the lockdown and the subsequent stay at home orders.
In SA’s case though, this decline highlights a decreasing labour force participation rate which adds to the country’s shockingly high levels of unemployment even - before the pandemic.