SA’s sky-high unemployment rate moderated to 27.1% between the two final quarters of 2018, thanks mainly to a surge in formal sector employment over the festive season.However, the outcome is still worse than a year ago when the unemployment rate was 26.7% and, given the weak trends in investment and growth, joblessness is likely to keep rising.Released this week, Stats SA’s "Quarterly Labour Force Survey" (QLFS) for the fourth quarter of 2018 exceeded many economists’ expectations — that the unemployment rate would remain flat at 27.5% on a quarterly basis.Instead, the economy created 149,000 jobs quarter on quarter in the fourth quarter. Of these, 92,000 were created by the formal sector, following two consecutive quarters of contraction. These gains were driven mainly by finance and business services (173,000 jobs), mining (32,000) and manufacturing (29,000). Formal sector employment in all other industries declined, with community and social services (a proxy for government) rec...

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