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The good news is the economy is creating jobs. There were over a quarter of a million of them during the fourth quarter of 2021, of which more than half were in the formal sector — “quality” jobs to which the labour movement aspires.

The bad news is that the rate of job creation has not picked up nearly fast enough to undo the damage done first by Covid-19 lockdowns and then by riots in July in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. The fourth-quarter increase wasn’t nearly enough to counter a sharp decline in the previous three months. By the end of 2021, the number of people in employment was still almost half a million down on a year before, even though the economy posted growth of almost 5% as it recovered from the worst of the lockdowns...

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