SA’s jobs growth defied expectations in the second quarter, pushing the unemployment rate a step closer to prepandemic levels as the easing of Covid-19 restrictions sparked a bout of hiring by employers looking to serve consumers who are eating out, shopping and travelling more.

The figures released by Stats SA on Tuesday came as a surprise given that the economy is broadly expected to have performed poorly in the second quarter due to the KwaZulu-Natal flooding, which devastated one of the country’s major transport hubs, as well as intense load-shedding and depressed business confidence...

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