Last week Statistics SA released the results of the latest quarterly labour force survey. The findings of the survey highlight many of SA’s biggest economic problems, especially around employment, and do not make good reading. The narrow unemployment rate hit 27.6% in the first quarter of 2019, an increase from 27.1% in the previous quarter. We should all be concerned about these numbers. As a general trend employment tends to fall between the last quarter of one year and the first quarter of the next, partly because people employed over the busy year end period as temporary staff are not employed in the new year. Even so, there has been some very poor and often incorrect interpretation of the results. One such example is that several commentators and economists have blamed the national minimum wage (NMW), which was introduced on January 1, for driving up unemployment. For the most part this criticism has revealed ignorance about what the minimum wage is, how minimum wages work in g...

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