Johannesburg - South Africa’s latest unemployment figure makes the country the one with the highest official unemployment statistic among 61 surveyed by Bloomberg.
Despite an economic uptick in the first quarter of the year, another 14 000 jobs were lost compared with the fourth quarter of 2010.
According to statistics released by Stats SA on Tuesday, the official unemployment figure is now 25%, one percentage point up on the 24% for the fourth quarter of last year.
The unofficial number – which includes those people no longer seeking work – looks even worse. This rose 1.1 percentage points to 36.5%, with some provinces like Mpumalanga showing that 42.5% of the labour force was without jobs.
Economists.co.za economist Mike Schüssler said that during the Great Depression of the 1930s America had had a 25% unemployment figure for only a few months.
For South Africa to maintain these levels over more than a decade shows that we don’t understand the problem, he said.
Nedbank issued a statement saying said that the figures were disappointing and emphasised the fragile nature of South Africa’s economic recovery. Problems around electricity provision and infrastructure would erode job creation even further.
According to Schüssler, job creation is overwhelmingly driven by public-service hiring.
In the first quarter of this year state-controlled companies and the public service had added some 158 000 jobs year on year.
Still, in the first quarter the number of jobs in the overall economy was only 42 000 more than in the first quarter of 2010.
This meant that 100 000 private-sector jobs had been lost, said Schüssler.
Government cannot sustainably remain the biggest employer, he said.
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