South Koreans are suffering from intensified economic difficulties in recent months due mainly to rising consumer prices and the higher jobless rate, government data showed Monday.
The country's so-called misery index, measured by the unemployment rate plus the consumer inflation rate, was 6.4 in the first three months of the year, with the former standing at 4.3 and the latter at 2.1, according to the data by Statistics Korea.
It rose sharply from the previous quarter's 4.7, and 3.4 for the July-September period of last year.
The 2017 first-quarter index marked the highest figure since the first quarter of 2012 when it hit 6.8.
The quarterly misery index had hovered below the 5.0 line for years on a low inflation trend stemming from decreasing oil prices, after peaking at 8.6 in the third quarter of 2008 in the midst of the global financial crisis.
Experts said that the economic suffering may intensify further in the coming months due to an upturn in global oil prices and the on-going corporate restructuring.
The state-run Korea Development Institute forecast that consumer prices will rise 1.8 percent in 2017, up 0.8 percentage point from a year earlier, and the unemployment rate will grow 0.1 percentage point on-year to 3.8 percent. (Yonhap)