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S/Africa’s unemployment rate hits new high

South Africa's unemployment rate rose to a record 32.6% in the first three months of 2021 compared to 32.5% in…

South Africa’s unemployment rate rose to a record 32.6% in the first three months of 2021 compared to 32.5% in the previous quarter, a senior Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) official said on Tuesday.Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke, however, said data showed that the number of employed persons during the first quarter of 2021 remained almost unchanged at 15 million workers.

According to an expanded definition of unemployment that includes those discouraged from seeking work, this meant that 43.2% of South Africa’s labour force was now without work in the first quarter of this year, Maluleke said.

This is the highest unemployment rate recorded since the start of the agency’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey in 2008, he added.

“The number of unemployed persons also remained almost unchanged at 7.2 million in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the fourth quarter of 2020 (differing only by 8,000),” Maluleke said.

South Africa’s economy, already reeling from a recession, turned for the worse during the current coronavirus pandemic which hit the country in March 2020, causing dozens of businesses to shut down due to socio-economic restrictions that have resulted in job losses in the millions.

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