South Africa.s unemployment rate is one of the highest in the world, and it has important distributional implications. The paper examines the incidence of unemployment using two national household surveys for the mid-1990s. Both entry to unemployment and the duration of unemployment are examined. A probit model of the determinants of unemployment is estimated: it shows an important role for race, education, age, gender, home-ownership, location, and numerous other variables, all of which have plausible explanations. The large race gap in unemployment is explored further by means of a decomposition analysis akin to that normally used to analyse wage discrimination. There remains a substantial residual that cannot be explained by observed characteristics, and which might represent unobserved characteristics, such as quality of education, or discrimination. Implications for policy and for research are drawn.