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The Numbers for South Africa’s Lockdown are In

South Africa’s economy lost 2.2 million jobs in the second quarter of 2020 during the country’s coronavirus lockdown. It is the biggest fall in job numbers since the employment survey began in 2008. Restrictions were brought in to try and prevent the spread of the virus and the economy subsequently shrank at an unprecedented level. Most businesses were shut for five weeks from 27 March in one of the strictest lockdowns in the world. The national statistics office’s figure for the number of people who have not been economically inactive indicated an even more dramatic economic decline. Between March and June that figure increased by 5.3 million people to 20.5 million. The official unemployment rate actually dropped in that quarter from 23.3% from 30.1% in the first quarter of 2020. But this may just indicate that lockdown prevented people from looking for work. The fall in the unemployment rate “is not a reflection of an improvement in the labour market, but rather an effect of the national lockdown, since the official definition of unemployment requires that people look for work and are available for work”, said the statistics office. In May, South Africa introduced social relief of distress grants of $21 for people who are unemployed.