S. Africa Unemployment at New High as Building, Trade Cut Jobs

South Africa’s official unemployment rate rose to a new high in the first quarter as the construction and trade industries shed jobs, Bloomberg News reported. The jobless rate rose to 32.6% from 32.5% in the three months through December, Statistics South Africa said Tuesday in a report released in the capital, Pretoria. That’s the highest number on record. Unemployment according to the expanded definition, which includes people who were available for work but not looking for a job, rose to 43.2% from 42.6% the previous quarter. That was as the number of discouraged work seekers surged by 201,000 people in the quarter. Persistently high unemployment poses a threat to social stability in Africa’s most-industrialized economy. It could complicate efforts to reduce fiscal deficits and slow debt growth as it may force Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to re-introduce a special Covid-19 relief grant for unemployed people that ended in April. Mboweni in February announced plans to cut spending over the next three years as he targets a primary surplus in fiscal 2024-25. Read more.