Debate over the nature of South African society has continued through the first decade of democratic government, including the question of a ‘First’ and a ‘Second’ economy. This paper focuses on the numbers and characteristics of those who might fit into the ‘Second’. The data examined suggest that both poverty and inequality have increased in South Africa since 1993, while also suggesting the presence of poverty traps that may hinder mobility and prevent individ- uals getting ahead despite the dramatic economic and political reforms since 1994. We estimate that some 6.2 million could be described as belonging to the ‘Second’ economy. However, we argue that there is more to the relationship between those who are marginalised and those who are benefiting from South Africa’s achievement than a dualistic and disarticulated ‘First’ and ‘Second’ economy. Linkages of inclusion and exclusion determine the size, characteristics and future of the two economies.