A new Stats SA survey has demonstrated that nearly 10% of respondents have lost their jobs or had to close their businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, with lockdown measures rendering companies across all spheres unable to turn a profit.
The “Wave 2” study, conducted by Stats SA between 29 April and 6 May 2020, aimed to measure the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent national lockdown have had on the employment, income and hunger situation of individual South Africans aged 18 years and older.
The study found that a growing number of people on Such Africa are beginning to experience hunger for the first time.
Hunger and job losses
The results of the survey paint a grim picture of loss and uncertainty – 8.1% of respondents reported that they had lost their jobs or had to close their business, and a large increase in hunger one of the devastating takeaways.
“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” the study summarises.
‘Amongst respondents who reported that their income had decreased during the lockdown, more than one in ten (11,4%) reported experiencing hunger, indicating that the loss of income may further increase food insecurity in the country.”
These figures are expected to grow as the lockdown continues, with more and more people running out of money and means to eat.
The survey showed that 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.
The percentage of respondents who reported that they have no income increased from 5,2% before the lockdown to 15,4% by the sixth week of national lockdown.
The study demonstrated that the majority of people are concerned about how the crisis will affect heir ability to fulfil their rent, amenities and other utility bills they have piling up.
“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,” it read.
Most of the respondents 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
Alarmingly, only a small proportion of respondents (5,4%) who reported owning a small registered business indicated that they had received financial relief from government, adding fuel to the allegations made against those responsible for administering the SMME grants.
Working from home
People have also had to make the unfamiliar switch to working from home, with nearly all respondents saying they usually worked in non-residential buildings before the lockdown.
Times have certainly changed though, and now 77% of people who worked during the lockdown did so from home.
A total of 15,1% continued to work from non-residential buildings during the lockdown.
In order to afford the impact of the lockdown, most people have had to make changes to their spending habits.
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 Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) (14,6%).