National unemployment decreases, remains high in Eastern Cape

FEBRUARY 11, 2015

There has been a decrease in South Africa's official unemployment rate for the fourth quarter of 2014 dropped 1.1 percentage point to 24.3 percent, StatisticsSA said on Tuesday - but the Eastern Cape continues to struggle.

"On a quarter-to-quarter basis there has been a decline in the levels of people who are unemployed," deputy director general for population and social statistics, Kefiloe Masiteng, told reporters in Pretoria.

A total of 242,000 people found work in the fourth quarter last year meaning that a total of 4.9 million people were officially unemployed. The official unemployment rate is made up of those who are jobless, but actively looking for work.

The expanded unemployment rate, which includes people who have given up looking for a job, was 34.6 percent, or 8.1m people.

Eastern Cape still struggling

The official highest unemployment rates were recorded in the Free State (32.2%) and the Eastern Cape (29.1%). The Eastern Cape had the highest expanded unemployment rate - (41,9%), followed by Mpumalanga (40,5%) and the North West (40,0%).

Unemployment is one of the main challenges facing government and President Jacob Zuma is expected to address the issue during his State of the Nation Address on Thursday.

Last month, projections by the International Labour Organisation showed that South Africa would have the eighth-worst unemployment rate in the world for 2015.

According to those projections, the 10 countries with the highest projected unemployment rates for 2015 were: Mauritania (30.9 percent), Reunion (29.4 percent), Macedonia (28.2 percent), Bosnia (27.5 percent), Guadeloupe (25.8 percent), Lesotho (25.7 percent), Palestinian territories (25.3 percent), South Africa (25 percent), Greece (24.6 percent) as well as Spain (23.6 percent).