In a well-functioning labour market the number of employees who quit their jobs roughly matches those who are fired. The unemployed will be a small proportion of the labour force. The number of new hires will match the new work seekers, depending on the state of the business cycle. And the labour market will be reassigning workers to enterprises that are growing faster from those that are growing slower or forced out of business and being replaced by the competition. All very good and necessary for economic growth and for the growth in jobs and rewards for work.

This does not describe the labour market in SA. The unemployment rate since 2008 has averaged well above 20%. It was 23% of the labour force in 2008 and 30.1% before the pre-Covid-19 lockdowns. The numbers of economically inactive South Africans of working age who are neither working nor seeking work, and hence not part of the labour force, numbered 15.4-million in the first quarter of the year, out of a working popula...

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