Johannesburg - It is essential to employ workers in the short term while proceeding with the government's new growth path to restructure the economy, Cosatu said on Wednesday.
"It is essential to start employing workers in the short term, especially on projects to improve service delivery and the quality of life in poor communities," Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said.
He was reacting to the Statistics South Africa Labour Force Survey released on Tuesday.
Craven said Cosatu was shocked that the unemployment rate increased to 25% between the fourth quarter of 2010 and first quarter in 2011.
Stats SA said traditionally there was a decline in employment in the first quarter, but this year the decline was much lower than the previous two years.
"However, the decline of 14 000 in this quarter is substantially very low compared to the decline observed in quarter 1 of 2009 and 2010, which was 208 000 and 174 000 respectively."
The formal sector gained 56 000 jobs and the informal sector lost 46 000 jobs in this quarter.
There was an increase of 3.4% (or 486 000) in the number of persons not economically active. Of these, 353 000 were discouraged work-seekers.
The agency said the number of unemployed people increased by 227 000 between the fourth quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011.
During this period, the number of discouraged work-seekers increased by 73 000.
Most of the jobs lost during the quarter were in the transport industry, which accounted for 34 000 job losses.
Some 25 000 jobs were lost in construction and 24 000 in agriculture.
"The job-loss bloodbath continues, bringing misery to thousands more families, and represents a huge waste of human resources, of workers who could be building new homes or improving our services, but who are left idle and demoralised," said Craven.
"It is noteworthy however that in the same quarter, jobs in the formal sector increased by 56 000, but this was more than cancelled out by the loss of 46 000 jobs in the informal (sector)."
"This proves Cosatu's point that casualisation of labour and the expansion of informal and atypical forms of employment has made thousands of workers more insecure and vulnerable to being summarily retrenched. It will strengthen our determination to end casualisation and labour broking."
He said the figures showed that the government's decision to make job creation its top priority was a correct one.
It also made its plans contained in the industrial policy action plan and the new growth path "even more relevant".
"Cosatu will also use these statistics to support its call for a substantial cut in interest rates to encourage new investment in job-creating industries and services."
Cosatu criticised the new growth path plan earlier this year, saying it was not enough to fundamentally transform South Africa's economy. The plan was unveiled by Economic Develop Minister Ebrahim Patel
in October last year.
It aims to create 5 million jobs over the next decade.