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PRETORIA, Oct 31 (Reuters) - South Africa’s unemployment rate was steady at 27.7 percent in the third quarter as employment gains in finance and services were offset by job losses in manufacturing, construction and agriculture, the statistics office said on Tuesday.
In its quarterly labour force survey, Statistics South Africa said the absolute number of unemployed rose slightly to 6.2 million in the three months to end September from 6.177 million in the second quarter.
The stubbornly high unemployment rate piles more pressure on the African National Congress government as it struggles with low growth and rising debt ahead of the party’s conference to pick a new leader to succeed President Jacob Zuma.
Zuma, who has battled several scandals including corruption allegations, can remain head of state until a general election in 2019.
The statistics agency said employment grew by 92,000 in the quarter but this was offset by an additional 33,000 job-seekers.
The manufacturing, construction and agriculture sectors shed 105,000 jobs in total, the agency said.
“There is certainly a very difficult situation when you look at these numbers,” Statistician General Pali Lehohla told journalists after revealing the numbers.
The expanded definition of unemployment, which includes people who have stopped looking for work, rose slightly to 36.8 percent in the third quarter, from 36.6 percent in the previous quarter.
The government targets an unemployment rate of 6 percent by 2030. (Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Writing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing by James Macharia)