More jobs in South Africa - but figures still disappointing

Heavy job losses in the manufacturing and trade sectors of the economy marred news yesterday that unemployment dipped unexpectedly during the second quarter of this year.

South Africa's official jobless rate fell to 24,9% from 2,.2% in the first quarter of the year, leaving 4,47-million people without jobs, Statistics SA said. Employment rose by 0,2%, or 25 000 jobs, taking the total number of employed people to almost 13,5-million.

On the face of it, the news is welcome, but a closer examination of data raises some questions.

The size of the labour force fell by 32 000 to 17,91-million people during the second quarter, which would have helped to lower the jobless rate.

The figures also showed that employment in South Africa's embattled mining sector rose by 6,3% compared with the first quarter of this year, adding 21 000 jobs; and increased by 26,6% compared with the same quarter last year, adding 75 000 jobs.

This is odd as mining output contracted sharply over most of last year and during the first quarter of this year, as the sector battled rising costs and weaker global demand.

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