South Africa's unemployment rate dipped slightly to 27.1 percent of the labour force in the fourth quarter of 2018 from 27.5 percent during the previous three months, the national statistics department said on Tuesday.
The unemployment rate however remains generally high, reflecting how sluggish economic growth -- the National Treasury has forecast GDP expansion of 1.7 percent in 2019 from an estimated 0.7 percent last year -- is hampering efforts to create jobs.
In its Quarterly Labour Force Survey, Statistics South Africa said the number of employed people increased by 149 000 to 16.5-million in Q4, while the number of those unemployed declined by 70 000 to 6.1-million compared to the third quarter, resulting in an increase of 79 000 in the number of people in the labour force.
Employment increased in three of the four sectors covered in the survey, with the formal sector recording the largest employment gains of 92 000 followed by private households at 65 000 and agriculture with 7 000. Informal sector employment however declined by 15 000 jobs.
"There was a net increase of 70 000 in the not economically active population, resulting in the number of discouraged work-seekers increasing by 108 000," Stats SA said, reporting a decline of 38 000 in the number of people who were not economically active due to other reasons other than discouragement.
The number of people with jobs increased in six of the ten industries under consideration.
The largest additions were recorded in finance and other business services, with 109 000, private households with 65 000, manufacturing at 48 000, mining with 31 000 and trade with 14 000.
Employment declines were however recorded in community and social services with 51 000, while transport registered a 30 000 reduction, utilities were down 22 000 and construction fell 21 000.