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Debates about jobless growth, especially with reference to the enduring unemployment in the economic boom of the late 2000s, are emblematic of the political economy’s discomfort with SA’s economic growth appearing to deepen inequality. The Covid-19 crisis has further exposed this and made it worse. It poses a profound problem for the country’s politics.

When the world went into economic crisis in 2020, the domestic economy collapsed in line with economies everywhere else. Unemployment jumped in the lower productivity services. This sector is the largest employer of unskilled labour in the country. At last count employment remained well below precrisis levels. Labour absorption will have increased now that we have the worst of the Covid-19 crisis in the rear-view mirror. However, low-skilled people have been the hardest hit by the pandemic...

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