The racial employment gap in South Africa

Type Journal Article - South African Journal of Economics
Title The racial employment gap in South Africa
Volume 72
Issue 3
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2004
Page numbers 573-580
WITH OFFICIAL UNEMPLOYMENT currently estimated at 30.5 per cent of the economically active population and the figure rising to 41.8 per cent in 2002 when using the broader definition of unemployment, there is a concern as to the effectiveness of post-apartheid labour market legislation. During the apartheid period of 1946-1994 the labour market was characterised by a clear dualism, across racial lines. This stemmed, from amongst other things, the Land Areas Act, the Bantu Education Act and occupational colour barring that produced racial economic, social and political segregation. With rapid economic growth until the mid-1970s, the segregationist policies in the workplace were increasingly unworkable. With White unemployment virtually zero, private business began demanding more Black semi-skilled and skilled labour so as to meet production targets, instead of hiring relatively expensive labour from abroad. Whilst occupational barring gradually began to subside this did not lead to the economic empowerment of Blacks (African, Coloured and Asian). Instead job division or blatant wage discrimination was adopted so as to keep the dualistic nature of the labour market in tact.

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