As South Africa continues to make its economic recovery millions of South Africans have been left jobless. From retrenchments to contracts not being renewed, losing a job can be one of life’s most stressful experiences. However, it’s important to note that this isn’t unique to South Africa but ours is one of the highest in the world. Everywhere we drive or walk, we see countless homeless people or beggars standing at the robots (aka traffic lights), trying to make ends meet. Consistently measuring an unemployment rate of above 20%, we face massive socio-economic challenges such as poverty and inequality that have a ripple effect on all who live within our borders.


According to data Statistics South Africa, South Africa’s unemployment rate has had a staggering increase of 7.5%, taking the country’s unemployment rate to 30.8% in the third quarter of 2020. There are now fewer jobs in South Africa than there were at the start of 2020. 


Despite the first quarter being when we experienced the COVID-19 hard lockdown and severely limited economic activity, the second quarter unemployment stats only showcase a fraction of the devastation of the pandemic. 


While the official figures take into account the labour force who are unemployed but are actively looking for work, the total unemployment figure includes anyone who has a job, wants a job and those who aren’t looking for work.  There is quite a big difference between the official and expanded definition of unemployment, which raises a lot of questions as it all comes down to who is or isn’t counted. Ultimately, this means that to be counted as being officially unemployed by StatsSA, unemployed people must be actively looking for work.


While the latest unemployment figures paint an alarming picture regarding the country’s unemployment crisis, Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi states that despite these figures, South Africa will eventually improve their current economic crisis. 


Even if you didn’t love your job, it may have provided you with some structure or a purpose in your life and suddenly finding yourself out of work can leave you questioning your identity or what the future may hold for you. Being unemployed may also affect your overall mental and emotional health, which could eventually lead to depression and anxiety.


While the stress and worry can feel overwhelming, there are quite a few resources that are available to make the transition slightly easier. The first of these resources to consider is the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) so you can get a steady stream of income while you are finding your way.


Most importantly, while the situation may seem bleak right now, it’s not the end and the country is on the path to economic recovery so things will improve.

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