SA’s unemployment rate is still catastrophic at 34.5% in the first quarter of 2022, even if it’s less of a catastrophe than the record 35.3% in the fourth quarter of 2021.

One thing the latest official figures suggest is how much methodology matters. Statistics SA is getting back to the way it used to do the labour force survey before the pandemic, with the result that it’s as hard as ever to tell to what extent the trends reflect reality vs methodology. But another thing the figures touch on is the role government’s jobs programmes seem to be playing — programmes that have lately been the subject of an important debate, at the centre of which are a couple of former senior Treasury officials...

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