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S. Korea's jobless rate rises in May, job creation lowest in over 8 yrs

South Korea's jobless rate rose slightly in May due to a fall in employment in the retail, manufacturing and educational service sectors, while job creation remained sluggish, government data showed Friday.

The unemployment rate stood at 4 percent last month, up 0.4 percentage point from a year earlier, marking the highest rate recorded for May in 18 years, according to the report compiled by Statistics Korea.

The number of employed people reached 27.06 million in May, up 72,000 from a year earlier, according to the data.

The unemployment rate for young adults -- those aged between 15 and 29 -- was 10.5 percent, up 1.2 percentage points from a year earlier.

The employment rate stood at 67 percent in May, unchanged from a year earlier, with the corresponding figure for young people at 42.7 percent, down 0.3 percentage point over the cited period.

Jobseekers wait in line at a job fair organized by a district office in Seoul on March 29, 2018. (Yonhap)
Jobseekers wait in line at a job fair organized by a district office in Seoul on March 29, 2018. (Yonhap)

The number of newly added jobs in May was the lowest since January 2010, when employment offerings declined by 10,000. Job creation has stayed slightly above 100,000 new jobs per month over the past three months.

"The number of newly added jobs in the manufacturing sector declined in the wake of corporate restructuring, and the construction sector offered fewer jobs than expected due to weather conditions," an official at the agency said.

The youth unemployment rate also continued despite a set of government efforts.

An extra budget worth 3.9 trillion won ($3.69 billion) was approved by the National Assembly in May, a huge chunk of which will be spent to create jobs for young people amid deepening concerns about high unemployment.

The government hopes that with the pledged support, youth unemployment could fall below 8 percent by 2021 and upwards of 220,000 jobs could be added annually through 2021.

Seoul's push comes as President Moon Jae-in has called for all-out efforts to create quality jobs for young people and warned that the high jobless numbers among young adults is a national disaster.

The extra budget is the second of its kind under the Moon administration. Last year, the government got parliament to approve an 11 trillion-won supplementary budget that focused on creating quality jobs.

"The implementation of the extra budget will be accelerated, and efforts for deregulation and innovative growth will be made to create more jobs," the finance ministry said.

In a related note, Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said the May job data are "shocking."

"The government has taken various measures to boost job creation, but things have not improved," Kim told in a hastily-arranged meeting with other ministers. "A reduction in the working population, combined with a drop in job offerings in major sectors, has exacerbated the current situation."

The minister said the government will make efforts to address the economy's structural problem and to boost job creation.

"Tailored measures will be ironed out which will also help boost domestic demand," he said. (Yonhap)