The unemployment rate increased to 25.7 percent between the first and second quarters of 2011, Statistics SA says.
“The unemployment rate increased by 0.7 of a percentage point from 25 percent in the first quarter of 2011,” Peter Buwembo, acting executive manager of labour statistics told reporters in Pretoria.
He was speaking at the release of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the second quarter of 2011 which showed that unemployment levels increased by 174,000 people to 4,538,000 people in the second quarter.
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.
This meant total employment was virtually unchanged at 13,125,000 people in the second quarter – an increase of 7000 jobs from the first quarter.
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 percent.
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 percent to 36.9 percent 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.