Over the next few years we will learn much more about the sensitivity of employment in SA to large changes in the minimum wages employers are able to offer. One hundred and twenty-four minimum-wage determinations that varied from sector to sector and region to region have been replaced in 2019 by a national minimum wage (NMW) of R3,500 per month, the equivalent of R20 per hour. The first evidence of the brave new world of a much improved NMW is now to hand with the Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the first quarter of 2019, published by Stats SA. The survey provides no consolation at all for NMW proponents. The number of potential workers increased by 149,000 in the latest quarter, while the number employed declined by a further 237,000. The unemployment rate (narrowly defined to include only those actively seeking work) increased to 27.6%, and when broadly defined to include discouraged workers, the unemployment rate has increased by a further percentage point to 38%. These regula...

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