Ndumiso Hadebe, chief economist at Pax Africana. Picture: SUPPLIED
Ndumiso Hadebe, chief economist at Pax Africana. Picture: SUPPLIED

In this edition of Business Day Spotlight, we look at the week’s top economics news as new employment and manufacturing data was released, together with further loosening of travel restrictions by the state. 

Our host Mudiwa Gavaza is joined by Ndumiso Hadebe, chief economist at Pax Africana, to discuss the issues. 

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According to national statistics agency Stats SA, the country’s unemployment rate reached a record high of 30.8% in the third quarter of the year, as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown continued to filter through the economy.

Hadebe explains that pubic understanding of these figures has been confused by the definitions used to classify employment in SA. He says the increase was expected, coming after a dramatic drop in the jobless rate to 23.3% in the second quarter. Hadebe says the large disparity between these two quarters is due to a technicality that disqualified a large number of the labour force from being defined as unemployed because they could not actively seek work during the lockdown.

Business Day Spotlight host Mudiwa Gavaza. Picture: DOROTHY KGOSI.
Business Day Spotlight host Mudiwa Gavaza. Picture: DOROTHY KGOSI.

We then turn to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech earlier this week, in which he encouraged South Africans to adhere to Covid-19 health and safety regulations. Travel restrictions have been further reduced in time for the festive season, which is usually a peak period for the sector, earning as much as R750m per day for SA.

Hadebe says the state has had to strike a fine balance between managing the rate of infection, while minimising the economic fallout. 

This is all against a backdrop of rising Covid-19 infections in places such as Europe where some countries have entered a second round of lockdowns. At the same time, the drama continues with Donald Trump refusing to concede losing the US presidential election, baselessly citing voter fraud. 

All these issues, Hadebe says, will have an impact on the SA economy. The EU and China, with which the US is currently having a trade war, are some of SA’s top trading partners. Developments in these regions will have a direct impact on exports and the strength of the rand, Hadebe says. 

The discussion also touches on manufacturing data released this week by Stats SA; the prospects of construction, mining and technology companies that Hadebe and his team engage with in their business; as well as the impact of increased digitalisation. 

For more episodes, click here.

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 Business Day Spotlight is a MultimediaLIVE production.

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