Unemployment 'an urgent matter that needs to be addressed': Pali Lehohla

Former statistician-general Pali Lehohla says the government must address the issue of unemployment.
Former statistician-general Pali Lehohla says the government must address the issue of unemployment.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

Former statistician-general Pali Lehohla says the government needs to come up with an extensive plan detailing how it will eradicate joblessness among millions of South Africans.

In an interview with eNCA at the weekend, Lehohla was reacting to the latest quarterly labour force survey from Stats SA which revealed that more than 2 million South Africans lost their jobs in the second quarter of the year, during the lockdown.

“We've lost 2.2 million jobs now. Added to the 10 million who were already out of jobs, this gives us about 12 million unemployed people,” he said.

“That is a significant number and one needs to see what programme government has that deals with matters around employment.”

Lehohla said the government's plan needed to be long-term.

“I doubt very much whether in a short time we can address joblessness, but it's an urgent matter that has to be addressed,” he said.

“A plan is a long-term thing. We need policies and discourse around policies and the effects of those policies over 10 to 20 years.”

Stats SA last week said overall unemployment decreased from 30.1% in the first quarter of 2020 to 23.3% in the second quarter - because fewer people were actively looking for jobs during the lockdown.

“To fall into the category of unemployed, people must be actively looking for work, which wasn't possible during lockdown. These people, therefore, fall into the 'not economically active' category. The expanded unemployment rate increased to 42%,” explained Stats SA.

The ANC said the figures highlighted the “deep” hunger and poverty in which millions of South Africans live.

The party said it would discuss unemployment and other burning issues during its two-day virtual lekgotla, which ends on Monday.

“The latest unemployment figures confirm the impact of the economic contraction in the second quarter of 2020. This has had a severe impact on the livelihoods of millions of South Africans and further deepened poverty and hunger,” it saidt.

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