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Labour analyst proposes new approach to address unemployment rate

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South Africa’s unemployment rate has declined to 10.3 million people, or 23.3 percent, of the working population in the second quarter of 2020, according to Statistics South Africa (Stats SA).

The rate is lower than the 30.1 percent previously recorded in the first quarter of the year, the agency said on Tuesday, 29 September 2020. According to Stats SA, the unemployment figure reflected the worst impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, following the hard lockdown which halted most economic activities from March until June.

With the economy more open now, although with eased restrictions, the third quarter of 2020 should see greater improvement of the job rates, it said.

South African labour analyst, Terry Bell, however, said economic growth would not be enough to fix the country’s unemployment rate. Rather, Bell said, the country’s long history of jobless growth called for a new approach, like reducing the wage bills of cabinet ministers and company executives in the private sector.

“I mean, if you start at the top by looking at Parliament, where ministers are paid over 100 000 dollars just in terms of their monthly salaries, plus all the perks in terms of transport expenses and housing. The same applies to companies in the private sector,” Bell said.

He added, “We should be looking at the health of the economy, the health in terms of people having decent jobs at decent pay. And perhaps, we need to seriously start to consider closing the huge wage and welfare gap as well of the country’s workers.”


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