The country’s unemployment rate declined by a percentage point in the fourth quarter of 2015, to 24.5% of the population.
According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, the working-age population was 36.3 million, of whom 16 million were employed, 5.2-million unemployed and 15.1-million not economically active.
Almost 66% of the unemployed were people between the ages of 15 and 34. Over half (57.6%) did not complete matric.
Year-on-year, the official unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percent of a percentage point.
Statistician General Pali Lehohla said on Thursday that the largest share of employment in the last quarter was in finance and other business sectors, trade, and community and social services.
Job losses were recorded in agriculture (37 000), manufacturing (36 000) and construction (21 000).
Lehola said that agriculture was a small but important contributor to the GDP.
Without it, “all life seizes to exist”, he said in the context of the sector’s job losses and the drought.
The losses were mainly driven by a decline in the growing of crops and combined farming of crops and animals.
Jobs in private households increased by 13 000 in the last quarter.
Lehohla addressed speculation around the survey results being re-scheduled until a day after National Budget. “As I stated, I delayed it because I had to do quality checks.”