South Africa’s unemployment rate rises weeks before election

By Thomson Reuters May 14, 2024 | 4:31 AM

PRETORIA (Reuters) -South Africa’s unemployment rate rose to 32.9% in the first quarter of 2024 from 32.1% in the fourth quarter of 2023, statistics agency data showed on Tuesday, two weeks before an election where joblessness is a key voter concern.

Statistics South Africa said the number of unemployed people rose to 8.226 million in the first three months of this year from 7.895 million in the last three months of last year.

South Africans will vote in a national election on May 29, with opinion polls suggesting that the governing African National Congress (ANC), which has been in power since the end of apartheid, is at risk of losing its majority.

Joblessness has risen about 10 percentage points in the three decades since the ANC came to power.

Under an expanded definition of unemployment, which includes those discouraged from looking for work, 41.9% were unemployed in January-March, compared to 41.1% in the preceding three months, Statistics South Africa said on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Kopano GumbiWriting by Tannur AndersEditing by Alexander Winning)