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Levels, trends and consistency of employment and unemployment figures in South Africa


  • Stephan Klasen
  • Ingrid Woolard


This article appraises the similarities and dissimilarities between the major sources of information on the South African labour force, ie the CSS Employment Series, the Standardised Employment Series and recent household surveys. It concludes that the generally bleak picture of very high unemployment rates presented in the household surveys is broadly accurate. Further, race, gender and location are major determinants of labour-force participation and employment. Finally, the article highlights the lack of work experience among the unemployed.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephan Klasen & Ingrid Woolard, 1999. "Levels, trends and consistency of employment and unemployment figures in South Africa," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(1), pages 3-35.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:16:y:1999:i:1:p:3-35 DOI: 10.1080/03768359908440059

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    Cited by:

    1. Kristin F. Butcher & Cecilia Elena Rouse, 2001. "Wage Effects of Unions and Industrial Councils in South Africa," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(2), pages 349-374, January.
    2. Adato, Michelle & Haddad, Lawrence James, 2001. "Targeting poverty through community-based public works programs," FCND briefs 121, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    3. Geeta Gandhi Kingdon & John Knight, 2004. "Race and the Incidence of Unemployment in South Africa," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(2), pages 198-222, May.
    4. Kingdon, Geeta & Knight, John, 2006. "The measurement of unemployment when unemployment is high," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 291-315, June.
    5. Vink, N. & Kirsten, J.F., 1999. "A Descriptive Analysis Of Employment Trends In South African Agriculture," Agrekon, Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA), vol. 38(2), June.
    6. Servaas Van Der Berg & Megan Louw, 2004. "Changing Patterns Of South African Income Distribution: Towards Time Series Estimates Of Distribution And Poverty," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 72(3), pages 546-572, September.
    7. Abhijit Banerjee & Sebastian Galiani & Jim Levinsohn & Zoë McLaren & Ingrid Woolard, 2008. "Why has unemployment risen in the New South Africa?," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 16(4), pages 715-740, October.
    8. Mich Brookes & Timothy Hinks, 2004. "The Racial Employment Gap In South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 72(3), pages 573-580, September.
    9. Martin Wittenberg, 2004. "The Mystery Of South Africa'S Ghost Workers In 1996: Measurement And Mismeasurement In The Manufacturing Census, Population Census And October Household Surveys," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 72(5), pages 1003-1022, December.
    10. Geeta G. Kingdon & John B. Knight, 2000. "Are searching and non-searching unemployment distinct states when unemployment is high? The case of South Africa," CSAE Working Paper Series 2000-02, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    11. Daniela Casale & Dorrit Posel, 2002. "The Continued Feminisation Of The Labour Force In South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 70(1), pages 156-184, March.
    12. Carter, Michael R. & May, Julian, 2001. "One Kind of Freedom: Poverty Dynamics in Post-apartheid South Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(12), pages 1987-2006, December.
    13. Miriam Altman, 2001. "Employment promotion in a minerals economy," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(6), pages 691-709.
    14. Sebastian Galliani & James Levinsohn & Ingrid Woolard, 2006. "Why Has Unemployment Risen in the New South Africa?," CID Working Papers 134, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    15. Adato, Michelle & Lund, Francie & Mhlongo, Phakama, 2007. "Methodological Innovations in Research on the Dynamics of Poverty: A Longitudinal Study in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 247-263, February.
    16. Maluccio, John A. & Haddad, Lawrence James & May, Julian, 1999. "Social capital and income generation in South Africa, 1993-98," FCND discussion papers 71, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    17. Conradie, Beatrice, 2005. "Wages and wage elasticities for wine and table grapes in South Africa," Agrekon, Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA), vol. 44(1), March.

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