The marginal increase in unemployment figures in the Eastern Cape for the first quarter of 2020 is no cause for complacency, but rather a worrying sign of things to come. The real slaughter will come in the second quarter, when the impact of the lockdown in response to Covid-19 starts to play out.
That the province has seen continuing growth in the unemployment, which increased by 1% from the 4th quarter of last year to 40,5% and by 1,2% in the expanded unemployment figures, to 48,9%, was expected.
What is the real shocker is the massive jump in the expanded rate of unemployment in Non-metro Areas, up from 45,1% to 56,5%.
This unfolding humanitarian crisis means over half the working population in the more rural areas of the province were without work before the lockdown was implemented.
This highlights the massive hardship that families are going through as they struggle to simply survive at a time like this.
These figures are contained in the latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey for Quarter 1 of 2020, which was released by Statistics South Africa today.
If we are to stem the tide of job losses in the province, municipalities need to provide reliable basic services so that businesses can operate. We need reliable electricity, water and road infrastructure!
We just have to look to the Sundays River Valley Municipality to see the impact on businesses that have had no water for a week.
If we are serious about job creation, local government needs to step up.
This also highlights the urgency to lift the lockdown with the necessary safety measures in place. We need to get the economy moving if we want to save lives and livelihoods.