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Job losses a concern

Prof. Ivan Turok
Prof. Ivan Turok

About a fifth of South Africa’s economic sectors saw job losses between February and April.

This economic fallout was partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Research conducted by Prof. Ivan Turok, researcher of the National Research Foundation and professor at the University of the Free State (UFS), and Justin Visagie, a research specialist with the Human Sciences Research Council, detailed the impact of the crisis on different locations.

According to findings, half of all adults in rural areas and a third of all adults in metros were unemployed by June.

“The main conclusion is that government responses need to be targeted more carefully to the distinctive challenges and opportunities of specific areas,” Turok said.

“Just as the blanket lockdown reflex had adverse unintended consequences for jobs and livelihoods, a uniform, nationwide approach that treats places equally will not narrow, or even maintain, the gaps between them.”

The report also exposed an enlarged chasm between suburbs, townships and informal settlements within cities.

“More than a third of all shack dwellers (36%) lost their jobs between February and April, compared with a quarter (24%) in the townships and one in seven (14%) in the suburbs. These effects are unprecedented,” said Turok.

“Government grants have helped to ameliorate hardship in poor communities, but premature withdrawal of temporary relief schemes would be a serious setback for people who have come to rely on these resources following the collapse of jobs.”

A research report revealed that in February, 57% of adults in the metros were in paid employment, while only 46% of adults in smaller cities and towns and 42% in rural areas had jobs.

The employment rate in suburbs, townships and peri-urban areas was 58%, 51% and 45% respectively.

“Overall, the economic crisis has hit poor urban communities much harder than the suburbs, resulting in a higher rate of unemployment,” said Turok.

“The economic collapse poses a massive challenge, and requires the government to mobilise resources from the whole of society.”

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