SA’s employment structure underwent big changes over the past quarter century. Government and community services, retail and transport more or less doubled in size. In manufacturing, food processing and to a lesser extent the chemicals value chain saw steady employment growth from 2008.

But it’s the downsizing that grabs attention. Agriculture lost about half of its jobs from 1990 to 2010. Heavy industry saw a third of its jobs disappear in the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. With plummeting export prices from 2011 to 2015, mining lost a third of its jobs...

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