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S.African official unemployment rate rises to 25%

Published on 03/05/2011

South Africa's unemployment rate rose to 25 percent in the first quarter of the year, an increase of one percentage point from the level at the end of 2010, official data showed on Tuesday.

“Most of the job losses were in transport, which accounted for 34,000 of the job losses, followed by construction (25,000) and agriculture (24,000),” Statistics South Africa said in its quarterly labour force survey.

South Africa has struggled to create jobs despite recovering in the third quarter of 2009 from its first recession since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Unemployment poses the biggest challenge to the government of President Jacob Zuma, who in February announced a new nine-billion-rand ($1.4-billion, 914-million-euro) job creation fund as a centrepiece of his economic policy.

The official unemployment figure masks the extent of South Africa’s joblessness problem, because many of the country’s 50 million people have given up looking for work and are no longer counted in the official labour force.

The number of these discouraged work-seekers has increased by 18.9 percent in the past year, Statistics South Africa said.

Including these people, the unemployment rate would be 33.4 percent, though some unofficial estimates put it at 40 percent or higher.