South Africa's unemployment rate edged up to 32.1% in the fourth quarter of 2023 from 31.9% in the third quarter, statistics agency data showed on Tuesday.

Sectors including community and social services, construction, agriculture and trade contributed to the increase in unemployment, a Statistics South Africa presentation showed.

Employment fell in the fourth quarter after rising for eight consecutive quarters, as the number of unemployed people rose to 7.895 million from 7.849 million in the third quarter.

An expanded definition of unemployment that includes people discouraged from seeking work fell slightly, to 41.1% in October-December compared with 41.2% in July-September.

South Africa is due to hold a national election this year, with high levels of unemployment and weak economic growth perennial hot-button issues at the polls.

(Reporting by Kopano Gumbi Writing by Anait Miridzhanian Editing by Alexander Winning)