According to StatsSA’s Q22022 labour force survey results, between April and June 2022, strict unemployment in the City dropped by 5,4% to 22,5% (from 28,4% the previous quarter). While this level of unemployment was typical of Durban before the onset of Covid, the drop in unemployment was far from areas on to celebrate.
What appears to have been a decrease in the City’s unemployment problem was actually the result of people being unable to search for work and therefore, not strictly being counted as unemployed. Therefore, between April and June 2022, StatsSA reported the highest number of discouraged work seekers in Durban ever recorded (354 000 people were available and able to work but did not actively look).
This appears to confirm the impact of the April 2022 flooding, during which the City estimated that 8,000 people lost jobs and more jobs were at risk due to damaged infrastructure, blocked entrances, and interrupted services such as electricity and water. Job losses were recorded in mainly manufacturing and transportation as a result of flooding and electricity shortages. It is also during this period that major firms such as Toyota and SAB ceased operations, while respondents to the City’s EAOS survey indicated that they had let go of some employees completely. 21 000 people, therefore, dropped out of the labour market in total, according to StatsSA.
A look at expanded unemployment in the City provides a more realistic picture. 81 000 more people were unemployed; both those actively searching or not; taking Durban’s expanded unemployment rate up to 37,9% or 750000 people in Q2 2022 (from 36,8% or 669 000 people in Q1 2022).
Interestingly, during this period StatsSA also recorded the highest increase ever in the population of 15–64-year-olds in Durban and an increase of 79 000 jobs in the economy. This may indicate that by the end of the quarter perhaps due to rebuilding efforts, more jobs were replaced than those lost due to flooding. However, these increases were not enough to make up for the increase of new entrants into the working aged group and job losses due to firm closures; therefore real unemployment continued to rise nonetheless.