South Africa’s Jobless Rate Declines to 24.9 Percent

South Africa’s unemployment rate, the second-highest of more than 60 nations tracked by Bloomberg, fell to 24.9 percent in the fourth quarter.

The jobless rate declined from 25.5 percent in the previous three months, Statistics South Africa said in a report released today in Pretoria, the capital. The number of people without jobs declined by 166,000 to 4.5 million.

The nation’s jobless rate may rise in 2013 as mining companies, including Anglo American Platinum Ltd., finalize plans to cut jobs after strikes last year reduced output and pay increases raised costs. Strikes in mining and transport industries curbed exports and growth in Africa’s biggest economy.

Gross domestic product is expanding at less than half the pace of 7 percent the government estimates it needs to slash the jobless rate to 14 percent by 2020.

Gold and platinum mines lost more than 10 billion rand ($1.1 billion) in production because of strikes last year, reducing the economic growth rate by 0.5 percentage point, according to the National Treasury. Anglo American Platinum Ltd. (AMS), the world’s largest producer of the metal, in January postponed plans to fire as many as 14,000 workers for two months.

The South African Reserve Bank last month cut its estimate for economic growth this year to 2.6 percent from 2.9 percent. The bank has kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 5 percent since a surprise cut in July to spur spending.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andres R. Martinez in Johannesburg at amartinez28@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

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