South Korea’s unemployment rate in March hit is highest level in 17 years, amid a persisting slump in the construction industry and slowdown in population, data showed Wednesday.
The number of employed people reached 26.55 million last month, up 112,000 from a year earlier, according to the report released by Statistics Korea. The on-month climb, though slightly higher from the previous month’s record of 104,000, continued to linger in the range of 100,000 for two consecutive months.
The number of jobless people tallied 1.26 million, remaining above 1 million for three months straight. The nation’s monthly unemployment rate was 4.5 percent, up 0.4 percentage point from a year earlier and the highest since the 5.1 percent in March 2001.
The jobless rate for young adults -- aged between 15 and 29 -- was 11.6 percent, up 0.3 percentage point from the previous year and marking the highest in two years for the month of March.
The overall employment rate remained unchanged at 66.1 percent, with the corresponding figure for the 15-29 age cluster at 42 percent, up 0.6 percentage point from the previous year.
A pedestrian walks past a youth employment center in Seoul, Wednesday. (Yonhap)
Per category, employment uptrend was the most visible in the art, sports and leisure service industries, which saw a 10.5 percent on-year rise. The public administration, national defense sector followed with a 5.7 percent increase, while the medical hygienic service and social welfare service sector stood at 4.6 percent.
Retailers, education service providers and real estate businesses, on the other hand, experienced a decrease in the employment rate.
“The construction industry, which used to tow the nation’s employment indexes, has been on the wane recently,” said an employee of the statistics office’s employment statistics division.
The slowing pace of population increase also attributed to the sluggish figures, he added.
Earlier this month, the government set forth a 3.9 trillion-won ($3.66 billion) supplementary budget dedicated to creating new jobs for young people, as part of a plan to pull down the youth unemployment rate to 8 percent or below by 2021.
The supplementary budget bill was the second of its kind under the Moon Jae-in administration. Last year, the government had initiated an extra budget bill worth 11 trillion won, focusing on creating more quality jobs mostly in the public sector.
By Bae Hyun-jung (email@example.com)