Unemployment improved marginally in the last quarter of 2017 even as the economy struggled to create meaningful jobs, data due this week could show. Sluggish economic growth in 2017 and job losses kept the unemployment rate stubbornly high at 27.7% for most of the year. But economists expect unemployment to retreat to 26.7% in the fourth quarter. However, the gains are expected to be reversed in the first quarter of 2018 as the employment was seasonal for the festive period. The predicted unemployment rate average for 2017 of 27.5% is worse than the 23%-24% average during the recession of 2008-09, according to Investec research. Investec economist Kamilla Kaplan said policy uncertainty remained a stumbling block to restore confidence and enhance the investment climate "which would ultimately lift potential GDP growth and therefore employment rates". Gina Schoeman, economist at Citi, said there were signs of improvement in the business cycle but "it’s being held back by some exogenou...

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