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The SA national lockdown has brought a substantial part of economic activity to a halt for five weeks and the economic effects are already being felt, including job losses and large increases in the number of people going hungry. One way of estimating which workers are vulnerable to job loss is to determine which workers can and cannot continue to work during the lockdown.

There are two groups of individuals who can continue work: workers in essential services or producing essential goods, and those whose work allows them to work from home. To estimate who is more likely to be able to work and who is not we use Statistics SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Surveys (QLFSs), which ask workers detailed questions to then classify the industry they work in (“Retail trade in food, beverages and tobacco” or “Growing of crops”) and their occupation (“Spaza shop owner” or “Nursing and midwifery professionals”). We use the Post-Apartheid Labour Market Series (Palms) version of the Quarterly La...

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