Pandemic-induced job losses reduce by 70% – GSS report

  • But 46,000 businesses still closed

The number of job losses experienced in the country as a result of the coronavirus pandemic has reduced significantly by more than 70 percent after the lockdown and other restrictions were eased by government, the latest COVID-19 Rapid Firm Tracker published by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) has shown.

According to the survey, which was carried out in 3,658 firms across different localities of the country, an estimated 11,986 – representing 0.4 percent of workers – lost their jobs in August/September compared with 41,952 in May/June, which represented 1.4 percent of workers. This can be attributed to a persistent decline in sales revenue and the full or partial closure of some businesses despite the easing of COVID-19-related restrictions.

Though the situation has improved from the previous survey, the tracker indicates an estimated GH¢85.5million decline in sales was recorded in August/September compared with the GH¢115.2 million fall in May/June.

Many firms, according to the survey, have adopted reduced wages and salaries or reduced working hours as cost-cutting measures. About 297,088 estimated workers had their wages reduced in August-September, while 230,361 estimated workers had reductions in their working hours. Workers in the trade sector were the most seriously affected.

Again, cash-flow problems persist, with 7 out of 10 firms reporting a deterioration in their cash flows; an indication of continuing weakness, the report adds.

Recommendations given in the tracker advise that policies are needed to support firms in both the short- and medium-terms.

“The continued decrease in demand, as well as difficulties in financing cash shortfalls, put many firms in a difficult position. Firms continue to report that measures aimed at improving liquidity (subsidised interest rates, cash transfers and deferral of payments) are the most desired policies.

“In the medium- and longer-term, steps should be taken with policies that support the private sector in the recovery stage from the pandemic, and with credit guarantee schemes for those accessing finance, assistance with input procurement, and trade facilitation,” the report stated.

Again, even though the survey shows firms which benefitted from government support almost tripled, compared to the first-round results (up from 3 percent in the first-round survey), surprisingly, many firms continue to indicate that they were not aware of support programmes; suggesting the need for increased promotion of awareness and clarity on the guidelines and requirements of current programmes.

The progress thus far

Compared to the May/June report, it can be observed that significant progress has been made in the recovery process, as that report showed the lockdown measures and other restrictions imposed by government to contain the spread of the virus resulted in about 72 percent of businesses experiencing a decline in production; while 90 percent them also saw drastic decline in sales.

Besides decline in production and sales, another area heavily impacted is labour, as the tracker shows about 36 percent of the businesses experienced labour shortages. Prices, on the hand, increased -with food and non-alcoholic beverages experiencing the highest price increase of 4.8 percent.

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