The unemployment rate increased to 25.7% between the first and second quarters of 2011, Statistics South Africa said on Thursday.
“The unemployment rate increased by increased by 0.7 of a percentage point from 25% in the first quarter of 2011,” Peter Buwembo, acting executive manager of labour statistics told reporters in Pretoria.
Unemployment levels increased by 174 000 people to 4 538 000 people in the second quarter, according to the quarterly labour force survey for the second quarter of 2011.
Buwembo said the increase in unemployment was driven by people previously classified as inactive in the job market now seeking employment.
The increase in unemployment was thus not a result of job losses.
“If you don’t look for work, you are inactive,” he said.
Total employment in the formal sector declined by 21 000 jobs from the first to the second quarter of 2011.
However, when comparing the second quarter of 2011 to the same period last year, employment in the formal sector increased by 110 000 jobs.
Jobs in the informal, non-agricultural sector were up by 34 000 to 9 198,000 jobs in the second quarter from the first.
However, the informal sector showed year-on-year growth of 27 000 jobs from the second quarter of 2010.
Of the 4 538 000 unemployed people in the second quarter, 3 093 000 had been unemployed for a year or longer.
Buwembo said those with an education level of less than a matric made up the highest percentage of the unemployed at 59%.
The expanded unemployment rate — which refers to people of working age without work and available to start work that week but who had not looked for work in the four weeks before the interview — rose from 36.5% to 36.9% from quarter one to two of 2011.
Under the expanded definition, 7 678 000 people were unemployed, rather than the 4 538 000 unemployed under the tighter definition.
Under the tighter definition, those classified as unemployed had to have looked for a job in the four weeks prior to the interview. — Sapa