Revisiting unemployment levels and trends in South Africa since the transition
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Many recent studies compared the 1995 October Household Survey (OHS) with the latest available Labour Force Survey (LFS) to derive the unemployment ‘trends’ in South Africa since the transition, but this approach only gives a snapshot of unemployment at two points in time. Although the better approach is to examine all available labour surveys to derive the real unemployment trends during the period, this does not mean these trends are fully reliable and comparable, as the sampling method, weighting technique, questionnaire design and labour market status derivation methodology to define the unemployed are different across the surveys. In particular, the unemployment estimates in OHS 1995–99 and during the changeover between OHS and LFS in both narrow and broad terms increased rapidly. This paper aimed to address these issues, if possible, in order to improve the comparability and reliability of unemployment aggregates across the surveys.