Johannesburg - South Africa's unemployment rate fell to
24.9% of the labour force in the last quarter of 2012 from 25.5% in the third
quarter, Statistics South Africa said on Tuesday.
In its Quarterly Labour Force Survey, Stats SA said this
amounted to 4.5 million people without work in the fourth quarter, down from
4.67 million jobless in the previous three months.
The expanded definition of unemployment, which includes
people who have stopped looking for work, was at 35.9% from 36.3% previously.
Peter Attard Montalto, emerging market economist at Nomura
said: "The unemployment figure is totally misleading and not the thing to
look at. This was a weak report, with the labour force and number employed
contracting versus the previous quarter.
"The breakdown showed quite some volatility across
sectors though the key is export-related sectors, which are adding back jobs
but far too slowly to make any meaningful impact, whilst retail trade jobs is
"Overall, this shows the underpinnings to household
balance sheets and the ongoing growth in consumption remains shaky and probably
largely driven by credit."
The rand strengthened to R8.8835 against the dollar from
R8.9010 before the data was released.
The yield on the 2015 government bond fell 1 basis point to
5.33% and that on the 2026 issue
declined 1.5 basis points to 7.34%.
The unemployment rate has remained at about 25% for years,
causing social unrest and requiring social welfare spending that is straining
Mining firms, including the world's biggest platinum
producer Anglo Platinum [JSE:AMS], are planning job cuts due to labour friction
and a loss of profitability that could exacerbate the problem.
South Africa's labour laws, ranked as some of the most rigid
in the world, have dissuaded employers from taking on new, inexperienced
workers, partly because of the difficulty and expense of firing them.