South Korea's jobless rate rose in December from a month earlier, but job creation remained strong, raising hopes that labor market conditions might be improving, a government report showed Wednesday.
According to the report by Statistics Korea, the jobless rate stood at 3 percent last month, up from 2.7 percent in November. The seasonally adjusted jobless rate also inched up from 2.9 percent to 3 percent.
Job creation still remained strong. The number of employed people was 24.96 million in December, up 560,000 from a year earlier, the report showed.
The figure slightly slowed from the 588,000 increase tallied in November but represented the second straight month that it topped the 500,000 mark, the report showed.
"The latest job data shows that a growing number of people felt optimistic about the economic conditions and came out to find new jobs," a finance ministry official said. "The rise in the unemployment rate still indicates things remained tough as many ended up failing to find what they wanted."
The job increase in December came mostly from the health and social welfare service sector and the manufacturing sector, which provided an additional 165,000 and 82,000 positions, respectively, compared with the same month a year earlier.
The lodging and dining sector also created 114,000 jobs, while transportation added 36,000, the report showed. The farming and fisheries sector, however, shed 27,000 jobs compared with a year earlier.
Labor market conditions for younger people remained gloomy.
The report showed that the jobless rate for those aged 15-29 jumped to 8.5 percent in December from November when it was 7.5 percent. It is also much higher than the previous year's 7.5 percent.
The job creation figure still heightened optimism that the country's economic recovery is gaining traction and translating into more job opportunities for people.
The government earlier predicted the economy to grow 3.9 percent this year following a 2.8 percent gain in 2013. Based on the growth outlook, the government forecast that it can create some 450,000 jobs this year, compared with the 380,000 gain it projected for last year.
The statistics agency report showed that 386,000 jobs were created last year, slightly higher than the government's projection.
For 2013, the jobless rate stood at 3.1 percent, down from the previous year's 3.2 percent, while the rate for young people jumped from 7.5 percent to 8 percent, according to the agency. (Yonhap News)