South African unemployment rate hits 13-year high

South Africa’s unemployment rate for the third quarter of 2016 has climbed to 27.1%, Stats SA has announced, topping the shocking jump seen at start of the year.

The rate is the highest seen since 2003, when unemployment hit the same level – but remains 0.1 percentage point lower than the highest rate seen since 1994, which was in 2002.

The stats show that while 288,000 more people were employed between Q2 and Q3 of 2016, the rate of attrition did not match the rate of new workers entering the workforce.

There were 527,000 new people entering the workforce, giving South Africa a total labour force of 21.7 million people.

Only 15.8 million people are formally employed, pushing the unemployment rate by 0.5 percentage points from Q2/s rate of 26.6%, which itself was 0.1 percentage point down from 26.7% in Q1 of 2016.

The unemployment rate is 1.6 percentage points higher than 25.5% seen in Q3 of 2015.

The expanded definition of unemployment, which includes people who have stopped looking for work, was a fraction lower at 36.3%, from 36.4% in the second quarter, the stats body said.

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The quarterly employment gain of 288 000 in Q3 of 2016 was driven by increases in six of the ten industries. The largest increases were recorded in Construction (+104 000), Finance and other business services (+103 000), Trade (+61 000), Agriculture (+56 000) and Transport (+53 000).

The number of employed persons decreased in four industries, namely Community and social services (-45 000), Manufacturing (-28 000), Private households (-15 000) and Mining (-9 000).

Read: South Africa unemployment: 1994 – 2015

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