Young black women bear the brunt of unemployment during lockdown – survey, Newsline

Johannesburg – The second wave of the National Income Dynamics Study (Nids) Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (Cram) has given more insight into the relationship between employment history and employment outcomes in South Africa during the pandemic.

In the second wave, Nids-Cram researchers have released new reports detailing the impact of the virus in South Africa.

In a paper titled “The relationship between employment history and Covid-19 employment outcomes in South Africa”, Gabriel Espi, Professor Murray Leibbrandt and Professor Vimal Ranchhod, who are researchers at the University of Cape Town’s School of Economics, say that those who had struggled to find employment before the pandemic continued to struggle to find jobs as the lockdown exacerbated their plight.

“Those with more stable employment were less likely to have been adversely affected and those with inconsistent or negligible histories of employment were more likely to have lost work or be excluded from employment opportunities.

“Nonetheless, we found substantial job loss even among the historically stable employed. Job loss and job gain were particularly strongly determined by employment history at the beginning of the lockdown (between February and April), and those with a stable history of either employment or non-employment faced similar additional job loss between April and June,” the researchers said.

The researchers found that black women, mostly in rural areas, were the least employed, while those who lost work during the lockdown were most likely to be rural-based and African.

By contrast, the researchers said African men in rural settings, who had “negligible employment history” managed to find work during the lockdown.

The researchers said 41.5% of those who had been surveyed had a history of persistent non-employment between 2008 and 2017, while 32% were identified as transient employed – meaning they were in and out of work.

For those who were stably employed in the same period, they accounted for 27.5% of those surveyed.

“Job loss under lockdown correlated strongly with employment history: 86% of the historically stable employed retained employment between February and April, compared with only 72% of the transient employed and 67% of the persistent non-employed who were employed in February,” the report said.

“The risk of job loss remained persistently high for many workers in the later stage of the lockdown.”

According to the report, “87% of the historically stable employed who had retained their employment between February and April remained employed in June, compared to 87% and 70% of the transient employed and persistent non-employed, respectively. The increase in the job retention rate among the historically transient employed meant that the higher risk of job loss faced by the persistent non-employed was unique in this later period of the lockdown”.

The survey also found that those who were “stably employed” also found work at a higher rate before the lockdown.

“The historically stable employed were more likely to move into employment between February and April, with 34% finding work, relative to the transient employed, 25% of whom found work, and the persistent non-employed, 8% of whom found work.

“Job finding rates between April and June were not as clearly correlated with employment history,” they said.


The research also found that those who were in long-term jobs and who remained employed during lockdown, were far more likely to be above the age of 50 and were likely to live in urban centres, were coloured or white, and were male.

But by contrast, those who lost stable employment during the lockdown were of similar age, but they were “substantially more likely to be male, African and rural”.

“Those persistently non-employed both before and during the lockdown were young (relative to the mean age for prime-age adults and especially compared to the historically stable employed groups) and disproportionately rural.

“This group makes up a substantial percentage of prime-age adults (18.8%) and it stands out that the overwhelming majority are female (71.5%) and African (93.5%).

“Although this group will include some people, such as younger students, who do not want to be employed, it will also include those facing the most chronic exclusion from the labour market.

“Those who were historically non-employed but found a job (what could be their first) during the lockdown were similarly young and African but were much more likely to be male and to have a long-term rural background relative to those who remained without employment during the lockdown,” the research said.

You can find the full report here: