File picture: Rogan Ward, Reuters

Johannesburg - South Africa's unemployment rate fell to 24.5 percent of the labour force in the fourth quarter of the year from 25.5 percent in the third quarter, official data showed on Thursday.

In its quarterly labour force survey which polls households, Statistics South Africa said this amounted to 5.2 million people without work in the fourth quarter compared with 5.4 million previously.

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The expanded definition of unemployment, which includes people who have stopped looking for work, was at 33.8 percent in the fourth quarter from 34.4 percent previously.