COVID-19 and the country’s national lockdown has pushed 2.3 million out of the middle class category to swell the ranks of the poor by more than 7.3 million.
This is according to an analysis of figures from the National Income Dynamics Survey (NIDS) and the Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey, performed by the University of Cape Town Liberty Institute of Strategic Marketing.
The survey has been performed among up to 40 000 individuals every two to three years since 2008, with the latest focusing specifically on the impact of COVID-19 on employment, household income and levels of hunger.
Earlier in the lockdown, it found that 3 million people who received an income in February, did not do so in April, the first full month of the hard lockdown.
The shift in earnings category may have been precipitated by the poor economic performance that preceded the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was likely exacerbated by the pandemic.
The latest analysis compares the number of adults across six income categories in June 2017 and in June this year.
The categories start from the Ultra Poor, or those who earn less than R3500 per month to survivors, who earn between R3 500 and R8 000.
The analysis found that 7 million adults joined the ranks of the Ultra Poor in the past three years rising from 9 million in 2017 to 16.6 million adults this year.
The ranks of those deemed to be survivors rose by 300 000 to 12.5 million adults.
The ranking then progresses to skilled strugglers, or those earning between R8000 and R22 000 per month.
This group fell by 2.3 million over the three year period, to stand at 7.4 million.
The middle class is characterised as those earning between R22 000 and R40 000 per month, while the upper middle class earns between R40 000 and R75 000, including those earning above the latter figure regarded as top Tier.
About 1.1 million dropped out of the middle class, while 800 000 lost their upper middle class status and there were 400 000 less people earning less more than R75 000.
Earlier this month, Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) released the Quarterly Employment Survey which showed that about 648 00 jobs were lost in the formal, non-agricultural sector of the economy, during the second quarter, the height of the national lockdown.
(COMPILED BY INSIDE POLITICS STAFF)