Annual Forum Papers

Two Million Net New Jobs': A Reconsideration of the Rise in Employment in South Africa, 1995 2003

  • Year: 2004
  • Publication Author(s): Daniela Casale; Colette Muller; Dorrit Posel
  • Countries and Regions: South Africa

In this paper we investigate labour market trends in South Africa between October 1995 and March 2003. In particular, we evaluate the South African government's claim that over this period, the economy created two million net new jobs. Using the same household survey data as that used to generate official employment estimates, we also find an almost two million net increase in employment. However, we show that this increase is likely to have been inflated by changes in data capture and definitions of employment over the years, and that the real increase may be considerably less, with a lower bound of approximately 1.4 million jobs. We argue further that the rise in employment over the period must be evaluated in the context of a dramatically larger growth in labour supply and therefore rising rates of unemployment, declining real earnings, and an increase in the number of the working poor, particularly among Africans.