“On a quarter-to-quarter [basis] there has been a decline in the levels of people who are unemployed,” deputy director general for population and social statistics, Kefiloe Masiteng, told reporters in Pretoria.
A total of 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 actively looking for work.
The expanded unemployment rate, which includes people who have given up looking for a job, was 34.6 percent, or 8.1m people.
In 2008, the official unemployment rate was 23.2 percent, while the expanded rate was 30.9 percent.
In 2011, the official rate was 25.6 percent, with the expanded unemployment rate 36.3 percent, which Masiteng said showed there had been an increase in discouraged job seekers.
The lowest official employment rate was in KwaZulu-Natal (20.8 percent), and Limpopo (15.9 percent), while the highest was in the Free State (32.2 percent) and Eastern Cape (29.1 percent).
However, the expanded unemployment rate sees the Western Cape (24.5 percent) and Gauteng (29.6 percent) with the lowest number of unemployed among the provinces.
Both provinces also have the highest labour absorption rate, with Gauteng at 51.8 percent and the Western Cape at 51.4 percent.
The labour absorption rate is the proportion of the working-age population that is employed.
“Gauteng and the Western Cape have the highest absorption rates and among the lowest unemployment rates,” said Masiteng.
“In contrast, the low unemployment rates in Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal mask high discouragement.”
Overall, South Africa’s working age population, between the ages of 15 and 64, numbers 35.6m. The labour force totals 20.2m.
The industries which added the most jobs quarter-on-quarter were agriculture (56,000), construction (53,000), and trade (50,000).
Year-on-year, construction (130,000), services (31,000), and agriculture (28,000) saw the largest increases in employment.
A total of 3.5m people were employed in the services industry, 3.2m in the trade industry and 2.03m in the finance industry, making up 57.3 percent of total employment in South Africa.