New data released by SweepSouth showed that around 200,000 women lost their jobs as domestic workers in the first quarter of this year, mainly as a result of middle-income families not being able to afford domestic work and brain drain from South Africa .

Earlier this month, the cleaning group released its fifth annual domestic worker survey, which highlights the devastating impact of inflation and emigration on domestic workers in South Africa.

It was a bloodbath in the domestic worker sector.

Women, who are mainly breadwinners, have not received a salary for months, plunging their families into dire poverty.

SweepSouth says the economic fallout, in part from the COVID-19 pandemic, has had a devastating impact on the livelihoods of many workers, disproportionately affecting black women and people living in poverty.

The report received over 7,500 responses from South Africa and Kenya.

Respondents in South Africa are between the ages of 30 and 36. 54% were Zimbabwean, 41% South African and 3.4% other nationalities.

SweepSouth COO Luke Kahnemeyer says, “We’ve honestly seen what you can call a bloodbath in this industry. Up to 25% of domestic workers lost their jobs. Between the last quarter of 2021 and until 2022. Because it’s one of the largest employment sectors for black women in our country, and these women support multiple people, and they’re the primary breadwinners.”

Kahnemeyer added: “This is about 200,000 workers who have lost their jobs. The middle-class people who are the employers, so because their incomes are under pressure, they can’t afford domestic work.’

From 1 March 2022, the national minimum wage for each ordinary hour worked has increased from 21.69 rand to 23.19 rand.

After job losses due to the pandemic and high inflation, South African households have decided to do without domestic workers to save money each month.


The high level of emigration experienced by South Africa has also contributed to rising unemployment in the sector.

Kahnemeyer says 28% of domestic workers said they lost their job because their employer moved: “Unfortunately, the brain drain we’re experiencing in South Africa, where skilled professionals and wealthier people are leaving the country, leaving workers who were comfortable working for employers who pay above average. There are a lot of job losses in this segment.”

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