South Africa's unemployment rate climbed to its highest level on record in the first quarter, official data showed Tuesday, as the country reels from the coronavirus pandemic.
The jobless rate rose to 32.6 percent percent in the first three months of the year, compared to 32.5 percent in the previous quarter.
It is the highest figure on record since the start of South Africa's quarterly labour force survey in 2008, said statistician-general Risenga Maluleke
The number of jobless people rose by 8,000 to 7.2 million from the fourth quarter of 2020.
The job losses were largely registered in the construction and agricultural sectors.
The expanded definition of unemployment -- people who are employable but have given up looking for work -- rose by 0.6 percentage points to 43.2 percent.
Young people have been particularly badly hit, with the unemployment rate among those aged 15 to 34 years old exceeding 46 percent.
South Africa's economy, which contracted by seven percent in 2020, is still reeling from the knock-on effects of rolling restrictions to stem the spread of Covid-19.
The stifled economic activity bled hundreds of thousands of jobs.
The African continent's most industrialised economy was already in recession when the coronavirus hit last March.
It is Africa's hardest hit by Covid-19, with over 1.6 million infections, including more than 56,000 fatalities.
The unemployment rate in South Africa has remained above 20 percent for at least two decades.