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S.Africa unemployment rises to 25.7%

South Africa’s unemployment rate edged up 0.7 points to 25.7 percent in the second quarter of the year, official data showed Thursday.

Africa’s largest economy had 4.5 million unemployed workers, up 3.1 percent from the same period last year, Statistics South Africa said in its quarterly labour force survey.

President Jacob Zuma has made tackling unemployment his top priority, announcing in February that the government would spend nine billion rand ($1.4 billion, 942 million euros) over the next three years to create new jobs.

The country has struggled to add jobs despite rebounding in 2009 from its first recession since the end of apartheid in 1994.

The official unemployment figure, which counts only those actively seeking work, does not capture the full extent of the joblessness problem.

If those who have given up looking for work are included, the rate rises to 33.9 percent — though unofficial estimates put it at 40 percent or higher.

Statistics South Africa said the number of discouraged job seekers had risen 13.9 percent in the past year.