From the edi­tor


Finweek English Edition - - CONTENTS -

for a na­tion that is so eas­ily out­raged by any­thing from rhino poach­ing to racist com­ments on Twit­ter, it is in­cred­i­ble that we re­serve so lit­tle of this anger to rage against South Africa’s ap­palling un­em­ploy­ment rate.

The lat­est data from Sta­tis­tics South Africa shows a mas­sive 8.16m South Africans are ei­ther un­em­ployed or have given up look­ing for work, an in­crease of 691 000 from the De­cem­ber quar­ter. Be­tween the fourth quar­ter of 2015 and the first three months of 2016, the num­ber of em­ployed peo­ple dropped by 355 000 to 15.66m.

Our un­em­ploy­ment rate, ex­clud­ing dis­cour­aged job­seek­ers, is now 26.7% – among the high­est in the world. By com­par­i­son, Brazil, which is fac­ing the worst two-year re­ces­sion on record and the worst po­lit­i­cal cri­sis in decades, has seen its un­em­ploy­ment rate in­crease to only 10.9% in the March quar­ter.

Our sys­tem is clearly bro­ken, but where is the out­rage? If not for the im­pli­ca­tions this huge num­ber of un­em­ployed peo­ple has on SA’s ef­forts to ad­dress poverty, in­equal­ity and so­cial sta­bil­ity, then at least for the tragedy of more than 8m peo­ple who have no chance of ful­fill­ing their po­ten­tial?

The Cen­tre for De­vel­op­ment and En­ter­prise (CDE) re­cently pub­lished a se­ries of re­ports look­ing at ways to ad­dress our lack­lus­tre growth and un­em­ploy­ment. In­stead of fo­cus­ing on the un­em­ploy­ment rate, the CDE says a more use­ful in­di­ca­tor of the de­gree to which an econ­omy is pro­vid­ing its cit­i­zens with pro­duc­tive work is the pro­por­tion of the work­ing-age pop­u­la­tion that is in em­ploy­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to the CDE, the global norm is for three out of five adults to be work­ing. In SA, how­ever, the fig­ure is two out of five – a third lower than the global av­er­age. If we could in­crease our score to the global av­er­age, nearly 6m more peo­ple would be work­ing.

To get there, the CDE says we need to do the fol­low­ing: “Re­bal­ance the ap­proach to trans­for­ma­tion away from elite en­rich­ment to growth-driven in­clu­sion; “Cre­ate an at­trac­tive and com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment in which to do busi­ness for all firms; “En­cour­age the emer­gence of labour-in­ten­sive in­dus­tries that use lots of un­skilled work­ers; “Ex­pand dra­mat­i­cally the coun­try’s skills pool; “Put cities at the heart of our na­tional growth strat­egy; and “Put state-busi­ness re­la­tions on a new and more con­struc­tive foot­ing.” Can you imag­ine this coun­try if an ad­di­tional 6m peo­ple had pro­duc­tive work?

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