STEVEN FRIEDMAN: Jobs figures startling to those who want to go forward to the past
The problem is not that what has existed for decades is in trouble but that it is still with us and does not work
More people than usual paid a price last quarter for the quest to build a country in which everyone has what apartheid gave only a few. Stats SA revealed last week that unemployment is now at 29%. This horrendous figure triggered alarm in the public debate. Since we are in a bout of national gloom, it was taken as one more sign that the end of this country is near.
Comment last week noted that the figure was the worst in a decade. But little or none of it mentioned that, in 2003, the figure was slightly higher — 29.3% — and the country is, a decade and a half later, still here. Nor that the number has easily exceeded 20% for a long time. To put that in perspective, the highest unemployment rate in the US during the Great Depression was 25%.