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Weak jobs growth deepens S. Africa’s economic malaise

South Africa’s economic woes worsened Tuesday as official data showed softening consumer spending and stalled jobs growth in the run-up to the end of the year.

Statistics South Africa reported the economy added a lacklustre 10,000 jobs in the third quarter, as retail sales increased a measly one percent in October versus the same month a year before.

“Retail sales growth slowed substantially in October,” noted Shireen Darmalingam, an economist with Standard Bank. “This softening in sales has become relatively broad-based.”

Total spending in October was 137 billion rand ($14.7 billion), official data showed, which was higher than the October 2011 figure of 131 billion but indicated that the rate of growth was slowing.

The statistics confirmed an already dire picture of for Africa’s largest economy in the second half of this year, with a painful mix of weak growth, high unemployment and fragile consumer confidence.

Economic growth in South Africa more than halved to 1.2 percent in the third quarter, the lowest rate in more than three years, as mining strikes ravaged the economy.

On Tuesday Statistics South Africa reported around 8,440,000 people were formally employed outside the farm sector, an increase of 0.1 percent from the previous quarter, pointing to a stalled labour market and perhaps more pain to come.

Significant jobs loses were reported in the mining and quarrying industry.