By Kopano Gumbi
PRETORIA (Reuters) -South Africa's official unemployment rate fell slightly to 32.9% in the third quarter of 2022 from 33.9% in the second quarter, statistics agency figures showed on Tuesday, but stubbornly high youth unemployment remains a worry.
South Africa has some of the highest unemployment metrics in the world, with the government acknowledging that far higher economic growth rates are needed to create jobs.
Statistics South Africa said the number of unemployed people totalled 7.725 million people in the July-September period, compared with 7.994 million people in the previous three months.
Youth unemployment was at 45.5% in the third quarter from 46.5% in April-June, a situation which some analysts have labelled a "ticking time-bomb" as it puts the country at risk of social unrest.
Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke said the number of young people aged between 15-24 years and not in employment, education or training has remained above 3 million people for close to a decade.
"We are experiencing structural unemployment, in that the skills that are there are not sufficiently matching the jobs that are available," Maluleke told a news conference.
According to an expanded definition of unemployment that includes those discouraged from seeking work, 43.1% were without work in the third quarter, from 44.1% in the second quarter.
During the COVID-19 pandemic South Africa recorded its highest official unemployment rate since the quarterly labour force survey began in 2008, at 35.3% in the fourth quarter of 2021.
(Reporting by Kopano GumbiEditing by Alexander Winning and Frank Jack Daniel)