South Africa's unemployment rate rose up to 25.5 percent in the third quarter of 2012, up from 24.9 percent in the previous quarter, the government statistics agency said on Thursday.
Statistics South Africa said the number of unemployed rose to 4.6 million, the highest level since the first quarter of 2008.
Unemployment is the biggest challenge facing Africa's largest economy, with unofficial figures putting unemployment at around 50 percent, when discouraged job seekers are included.
A third of the youth, mostly women aged between the ages of 15 and 24 were jobless, and the eastern province of Mpumalanga, the Western Cape and the largely rural Limpopo recorded increases in unemployment.
"Employment in the informal sector increased by 112,000 while formal sector jobs increased by 92,000 and Agriculture by 23,000 in the third quarter," said the agency.