SA’s unemployment rate improved in the fourth quarter from the third, as might be expected for a quarter that usually brings a temporary hiring boost thanks to the holiday season. Unemployment from September to December was estimated at 26.7%, Statistics SA said in its quarterly labour force survey on Tuesday. That is a whole percentage point better than the 27.7% seen in the July-September quarter and compares with Investec’s forecast of an improvement to 27%. Unemployment in the fourth quarter of 2016 was 26.5%. Investec’s Kamilla Kaplan said in her preview last week that a fourth-quarter rate of 27% would put unemployment for all of 2017 at 27.5%, up from 26.7% for all of 2016. This is how unemployment rates in the fourth quarters of the past decade stack up: Unemployment rose to 27.7% in the first quarter of the year — its highest level since 2003, and worse than the rates of 23%-24% seen in the 2008-09 financial crisis — and stayed at that level for most of the year. Trading Ec...

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