Unemployment in South Africa climbs to 11-year high

South Africa’s unemployment rate has surged to 26.4 percent as power blackouts, extensive hopelessness and drought took their toll on the country’s economy. According to official figures released on Tuesday, this unemployment rate is an 11-year in the long struggling economy.

South Africa’s economy grew 1.3 percent in the first quarter of this year, which was worse than expected. “South Africa is really at a crossroads,” said Kristin Lindow, senior vice president at rating agency Moody’s Investors Service, told WSJ.

Lindow blamed the government of President Jacob Zuma for this, saying it had more often than not pushed back tough choices to put the economy back on track.

The government had promised to grow the economy by 7 percent to create sustainable jobs in the country. “We don’t know when these decisions will be made and what the economy will have to go through in the meantime,” she added.

From last year, extensive power cuts in the country had forced big plants and mines to reduce production. The famine that has affected certain parts of the country has damaged production at South Africa’s crop farms. “The agricultural outlook for this year is very bleak,” WSJ quoted Joe de Beer, deputy director-general of Statistics South Africa, as having said.

According to economists that spoke to WSJ, the actual rate among people under 25 years of age is more than 50 percent. “Unemployment still remains the biggest problem in South Africa,” Statistician-General Pali Lehohla admitted.

The disappointments of the jobless young South Africans have provoked social discontent and an increase in violent crime.


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