The Congress of SA Trade Unions said it was pleased to hear South Africa’s unemployment rate declined to 24.3 percent, from 25.4 percent in the third quarter of 2014, national spokesman Patrick Craven said in a statement.
Though there was also a small decline in the “more realistic” expanded unemployment rate, from 35.8 percent to 34.6 percent, the total number of people without jobs, when taking the expanded rate into account, was a “massive” 8.1m.
“While any reduction in the number without work is welcome, the federation notes the caution expressed by Kefiloe Masiteng, Statistics SA deputy director-general for social statistics [and population],” Craven said.
Masiteng said some jobs created were driven in part by the festive season, through sectors that created mainly casual jobs.
“The DDG also warned that ‘economic growth is not coming at the level that is able to create the jobs that are needed currently for the economy’,” Craven said.
“So it is far too early to start celebrating, especially given the crisis caused by load shedding, which has put many thousands of existing jobs in peril, and is sure to slow down the rate of new investment which could create more new jobs.”
As such, the next quarter’s statistics would need to be studied very closely.
He said there could be no complacency in pushing forward radical, developmental economic policies to deal with the underlying, structural causes of South Africa’s high unemployment rate.
Earlier on Tuesday, Masiteng told reporters in Pretoria that 242,000 people found work in the fourth quarter last year. A total of 4.9m people were officially unemployed.
The official unemployment rate is made up of those who are jobless, but are actively looking for work.
The expanded unemployment rate includes people who have given up looking for a job.