South Africa unemployment drops to under 25%

South Africa's jobless rate fell by 0.9 points to 24.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 due to jobs created in the construction and agricultural sectors, the national statistics agency said.

The number of people without work declined to 4.5 million people from 4.67 million in the previous three months, the agency said in a statement on Tuesday.

Employment tends to increase during the fourth quarter in South Africa due to the summer in the southern hemisphere, it added.

South Africa's unemployment rate has hovered around 25 percent since 2009, but this masks that many South Africans have given up looking for work and are no longer counted in the official labour force.

When discouraged job seekers are factored in, unofficial estimates place the rate of unemployment at between 40 and 50 percent in Africa's largest and wealthiest economy.

Joblessness remains highest among black South Africans, with women the worst affected.

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