In the context of a more robust and relatively more favourable global economic environment, sound macroeconomic management, and more sustained economic momentum, indications of a socio-economic turnaround in South Africa are beginning to emerge. These include a sizeable increase in employment – mainly in the private sector – and an emerging black middle-class that is widely considered to have been one of the main drivers of the healthy demand-led economic growth in the past one-and-a-half years.The aim of this edition is to underscore the notion that, although the enabling macroeconomic environment is a necessity for higher sustained growth of the economy, it is not sufficient for the reversal of the legacies of the past. The measurement of the success of any nation should focus on those who are at the margins of the economy, namely the poor, the inadequately skilled or unskilled, and the unemployed. In one way or another, this kind of marginalisation stifles economic potential at personal, household and macro levels and can be a threat to social and economic stability going forward.This edition covers crucial labour market and socio-economic issues, namely the impact of price movements on poorer households, the skills base of the economy and youth unemployment. The first article is an empirical analysis of the differential impact of inflation on the poorest 40 per cent of urban households between 1997 and 2002. This period of relatively high inflation levels offers an important opportunity to gain better insights into the structural dynamics which are associated with price movements. This analysis offers pointers for policy direction. The article establishes an empirical basis for the argument that poorer households are more vulnerable to the impact of inflation. Furthermore, it identifies critical inflation drivers in these households.The second article provides a snapshot of the skills base of formal non-agricultural activities in the economy in terms of workers’ occupational profiles and their educational backgrounds. It goes on to give a broad review of the institutional framework and highlights important areas of consideration from both research and policy perspectives. While debates pertaining to the ability of the formal sector to churn out more job opportunities continue, the level of required skills among the employed is an equally important issue.The last contribution is a research note investigating job search patterns among the unemployed youth. It draws attention to the fact that, in addition to the need for more robust labour demand and a better skills match, information flows between job seekers and employers are an essential dimension of South Africa’s labour market. This analysis gives prominence to job search patterns as an area that needs further research and policy attention.