After a bounce-back from the devastation of the lockdowns of 2020, the labour market has returned to its prepandemic normal, where the drivers of unemployment will be the GDP growth rate and the growth of the labour force.

The lockdowns created a fundamental dislocation in the labour market as 2.2-million people lost their jobs and the absorption rate — the percentage of the working-age population that is employed — fell to 36%. By the end of 2023, the labour market had recovered to the prepandemic normal. According to Stats SA’s latest quarterly labour force survey, the economy created 22,000 jobs during the first quarter of 2024. But the labour force increased by 440,000 people...

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