South Africa’s unemployment rate soars amid pandemic

South Africa’s unemployment rate has increased to 30% as the country continues to battle the biggest Covid-19 outbreak on the continent.

The figure reflects the first three months of the year, before the country went into lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.

So the real rate is probably much worse.

South Africa’s downward economic spiral is clear. For the first quarter of this year nearly 350,000 people joined the ranks of the unemployed, which now means there are more than seven million people without work.

Most sectors of the economy suffered job losses, the worst affected included; banking, community services and agriculture, which saw losses between 20 000 to 50 000 people.

Since the lockdown began on 26 March, economic activity has been restricted, resulting in numerous job losses across the board.

The national treasury projects that up to 1.8 million jobs could be lost as result of the pandemic, and the unemployment rate could reach 50% in the worst-case scenario.

More bad news is expected on Wednesday when Finance Minister Tito Mboweni tables his supplementary budget, where he is expected to announce the biggest budget deficit on record and a massive contraction of economic growth.