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‘Two Million Net New Jobs’: A Reconsideration of the Rise in Employment in South Africa, 1995-2003


  • Daniela Casale
  • Colette Muller
  • Dorrit Posel

    () (Division of Economics,University of Kwa-Zulu Natal)


In this paper we investigate labour market trends in South Africa between October 1995 and March 2003. In particular, we evaluate the South African governments claim that over this period, the economy created two million net new jobs. Using the same household survey data as that used to generate official employment estimates, we also find an almost two million net increase in employment. However, we show that this increase is likely to have been inflated by changes in data capture and definitions of employment over the years, and that the real increase may be considerably less, with a lower bound of approximately 1.4 million jobs. We argue further that the rise in employment over the period must be evaluated in the context of a dramatically larger growth in labour supply and therefore rising rates of unemployment, declining real earnings, and an increase in the number of the working poor, particularly among Africans.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniela Casale & Colette Muller & Dorrit Posel, 2005. "‘Two Million Net New Jobs’: A Reconsideration of the Rise in Employment in South Africa, 1995-2003," Working Papers 05097, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
  • Handle: RePEc:ctw:wpaper:05097

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. H. Bhorat, 1999. "The October Household Survey, Unemployment and the Informal Sector: A Note," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 67(2), pages 143-146, June.
    2. M Leibbrandt & H Bhorat & I Woolard, 2001. "Household Inequality And The Labor Market In South Africa," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 19(1), pages 73-86, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Selomane, Odirilwe & Reyers, Belinda & Biggs, Reinette & Tallis, Heather & Polasky, Stephen, 2015. "Towards integrated social–ecological sustainability indicators: Exploring the contribution and gaps in existing global data," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 140-146.

    More about this item


    South Africa: labour market trends; rising rates of unemployment; declining real earnings; working poor;

    JEL classification:

    • A1 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics


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