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More than a quarter of South African workers are now out of work, official statistics showed on Monday.
Statistics SA said that 4.6 million South Africans were unemployed in the first quarter of the year, 25.2 percent of the eligible population.
Broader statistics paint an even bleaker picture of the country's chronic unemployment, with nearly 37 percent of South Africans not working, because of age, health or economic reasons.
Of 50 million South Africans, there were also 2.3 million who are discouraged workers who have given up looking for a job and more than 12 million who are not economically active.
Some 66,000 jobs were lost in the trade sector during the last quarter alone, amid a weakening of the rand that made imports more expensive but should have make South African exports more competitive.