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Job growth hits 15-month high in March

The on-year job growth in South Korea hit a 15-month high in March on the back of more hiring in the construction and retail sectors, government data showed Wednesday.

According to Statistics Korea, the number of employed people increased by 466,000 in March from a year ago to reach 25.27 million. The on-year growth was the fastest since December 2015.

The unemployment rate in Asia’s fourth-largest economy fell to 4.2 percent in March from a seven-year high of 5 percent in the previous month. The jobless rate among youths, or those aged between 15 and 29, also went down to 11.3 percent, 0.5 percentage points down from a year earlier.
Job seekers visit booths at a job fair for youths in Seoul (Yonhap)
Job seekers visit booths at a job fair for youths in Seoul (Yonhap)

By sector, the construction industry gained 164,000 jobs from a year earlier last month, leading the overall job growth. Retail added 116,000 jobs, while health and social welfare services saw an increase of 101,000 jobs. However, the manufacturing industry shed 83,000 jobs, continuing to fall for the ninth consecutive month in March.

“The job reduction in manufacturing got slower and job growth in construction and retail led the number of job increases,” said Bin Hyun-joon, head of the employment statistics division at Statistics Korea.

People in their 60s saw the biggest addition of jobs, with 272,000 more in March, followed by those in their 50s with 199,000 and those in their 20s with 34,000. Those in their 40s lost 43,000 jobs last month and those in their 30s lost 9,000.

The employment rate, or the proportion of the employed out of the population aged over 15, rose to 60.2 percent, up 0.6 percentage points from a year earlier. The figure is the highest in 20 years since 60.2 percent marked in March 1997.

The number of self-employed people rose to 5.61 million last month, up 127,000 from a year earlier, the data showed. The figure has been on the rise since August last year, as many people who lost jobs during corporate restructuring have become small business owners.

By Kim Yoon-mi (