SA's unemployment rate drops

Stats SA says more than 242,000 people managed to find work towards the end of 2014.

FILE: The unemployment rate has registered a slight decline. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) says the latest figures show more than 242,000 people managed to find work towards the end of last year.

South Africa's unemployment rate for the fourth quarter of 2014 dropped 1,1 percentage points to 24,3 percent.

Unemployment is one of the main challenges facing government and President Jacob Zuma is expected to address the issue during his State of the Nation Address on Thursday.

However, the news is welcomed as the country battles with power outages and businesses warn that the economy will be affected.

Stats SA says around 4,9 million people are still officially unemployed.

The official unemployment rate is made up of those who are jobless, but actively looking for work.

However, the organisation says the expanded unemployment rate, which includes people who have given up looking for a job, stands at around 34,6 percent, or 8,1 million people.

LAST YEAR'S FIGURES

An employment survey compiled by Stats SA last year showed a 0,1 percent improvement since 2013, but a 3,4 percent overall drop since 2008.

The report showed youth unemployment rose to just over 36 percent since 2008, with Limpopo the only province to see a decrease in that period.

The highest levels of youth unemployment are in the Free State, with nearly half of the province's 15 to 34-year-olds unemployed.

The figures also indicated the youth unemployment rate was 20 percent higher than the unemployment figures for adults over 34.