SA jobless rate rises to 25% in Q1

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The number of unemployed people in South Africa increased in the first quarter of this year, mainly due to seasonal changes, official data showed on Tuesday.

Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) said the official jobless rate went up to 25% of the labour force in the first quarter of 2011 from 24% in the fourth quarter.

This pushed the number of unemployed people to 4,364 million in the three months to March from 4,137 million in the fourth quarter.

“Employment traditionally declines in the first quarter,” Stats SA said in a statement.

“However, the decline . . . in this quarter is substantially very low compared to the decline observed in the first quarter of 2009 and 2010.”

The statistics agency also said that if those who have given up looking for work were included in the figures, the number of unemployed went up to 36,5% from 35,8% in the fourth quarter.

South Africa’s government wants to create five million jobs by 2020, although concedes that is not going to happen unless economic growth rates double to around 7%.

Chronic unemployment has left many black people still living in poverty 17 years after the end of apartheid, fuelling protests in demand for basic services such as electricity, water and sanitation.