S. Africa Second-Quarter Jobless Rate Increases to 25.6%

South Africa’s unemployment rate rose last quarter to 25.6 percent, the highest of 45 emerging-market nations tracked by Bloomberg, as agriculture and manufacturing industries shed jobs.

The jobless rate increased from 25.2 percent in the previous three months, Statistics South Africa said in a report released today in Pretoria. The number of people without jobs rose by 122,000 to 4.7 million. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of six economists was for the unemployment rate to reach 25.4 percent.

Africa’s biggest economy is set to expand this year at its slowest pace since a 2009 recession, according to forecasts from the central bank, as a recession in Europe saps demand for manufactured exports and mining strikes curb output. Joblessness and rising prices are undermining consumer spending, which accounts for more than 60 percent of expenditure in the economy.

“One would have expected that if exports increased, jobs could have increased,” Pali Lehohla, the statistician-general, told reporters in Pretoria.

Manufacturing, which makes up about 15 percent of the economy, shed 18,000 jobs last quarter, while employment in agriculture dropped by 26,000, the statistics office said. The community and social services industry, which includes public sector jobs, declined by 22,000.

Policy Dilemma

The Reserve Bank faces a monetary policy dilemma because inflation is being stoked by a weaker rand while economic growth is weakening, making it difficult for policy makers to cut the benchmark interest rate from 5 percent, Governor Gill Marcus said last week.

The central bank has reduced its economic growth forecast for this year to 2 percent from 2.4 percent. That’s less than half the rate of expansion the government says is necessary to create 5 million jobs by 2020.

The rand fell 0.8 percent to 9.8672 against the dollar as of 12:19 p.m. in Johannesburg, taking its decline this year to 14 percent.

Construction reported the biggest quarterly increase in jobs, by 62,000, while employment in the trade industry climbed by 52,000, the statistics office said. Mining added 9,000 jobs and transport rose by 19,000.

Discouraged work-seekers, defined as those who are unemployed and not actively looking for a job, aren’t included in the calculation for the official unemployment rate. These work-seekers increased by 35,000 to 2.4 million in the quarter, the statistics office said.

The unemployment rate is compiled from a household survey covering the formal and informal industries.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.