South Korea's jobless rate jumped in February, but job creation increased at the fastest pace in 12 years, indicating that more people came out to look for work amid signs that the economy is recovering, a government report showed Wednesday.
According to the report by Statistics Korea, the jobless rate stood at 4.5 percent last month, up from 3.5 percent in January. The seasonally adjusted jobless rate also rose from 3.2 percent to 3.9 percent.
Job creation quickened sharply. The number of employed people was 24.82 million in February, up 835,000 from a year earlier, the report showed.
This marked the largest on-year job growth since March 2002 when 842,000 jobs were added to the economy. It is also much more than the 705,000 gain tallied in January.
"The unemployment rate rose last month as more people, including younger people, came out to search for work in time for the graduation and recruitment season," the agency said.
Experts see the February job data as "encouraging" signs that labor market conditions might be recovering from the protracted slump.
"It is encouraging that more people are trying to join the workforce since this indicates that they believe the economic recovery is strengthening and that there might be more jobs out there," said Lim Hee-jung, a senior economist at the Hyundai Research Institute.
The wholesale and retail sector was the biggest job creator, adding 182,000 jobs in February compared with a year earlier, the report showed.
The lodging and dining sector and manufacturing sector hired 146,000 and 135,000 more jobs, while the health and social welfare service sector added 110,000 jobs over the same period.
The report showed that labor market conditions for younger people toughened as more students hunt for jobs during the graduation season.
The jobless rate for those aged 15-29 jumped to 10.9 percent in February from January's 8.7 percent, according to the report. This is higher than the 9.1 percent recorded in the same month a year earlier.
The data comes as the government grows confident that the economy is showing signs of improvement. On Tuesday, the finance ministry said employment and inflation remain on a "stable" path, with production in mining, manufacturing, service, construction and the public sector all expanding. (Yonhap)