The Korea Herald


Korea’s employment rate improves, but optimism premature

By Korea Herald

Published : June 14, 2017 - 17:10

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The number of employed has surged by over 300,000 compared to a year ago, while the jobless rate declined.

Youth employment, however, continues to stagger while the number of employees in manufacturing fell for the 11th month running, the data also showed.
(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

Statistics Korea said Wednesday that in May, a total of 26.8 million people were employed, up 375,000 from a year before.
While the increase is slightly lower than that of March and April, it remains to hover above the 300,000 mark, the statistics showed.

By industry, the employment expanded in construction, educational services and real estate and leases, while it shrank in transportation, manufacturing, finances and insurance services.

The manufacturing sector, which is responsible for one-fifth of the country’s total hiring, shed 25,000 jobs last month. The number of business owners, on the other hand, surged by 51,000 on-year.

The employment rate reached 61.3 percent, up 0.3 percentage point from a year ago, and the highest since 61.8 percent in May 1997.

The employment rate among those aged 15-64, a standard age group for comparison with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, came to 67.0 percent, up 0.7 percentage point from the previous year.

The employment rate by age only declined among those in their 20s, reaching 58.8 percent, down 0.5 percentage point from a year ago. Employment among men in their 20s dropped by 1.1 percentage points.

Unemployment, meanwhile, fell by some 2,000 to 1.003 million. The jobless rate declined 0.1 percentage point to 3.6 percent.

But the “real unemployment rate,” which takes into account those working part-time jobs while seeking for permanent work and those preparing for recruitment, marked 11.0 percent, up 0.2 percentage point.

The real unemployment rate for the youth, in particular, jumped 0.9 percentage point to 22.9 percent.

The number of economically inactive population reduced by 25,000 from a year ago to 15.9 million.

The number of those who have given up on landing jobs reached 502,000, up by 82,000 from a year ago.

“While the overall indexes look to be sound, those for specific groups, such as that of those in their 20s, have room for improvement,” said Bin Hyun-joon, head of the agency’s employment statistics division.

A Strategy and Finance Ministry official explained that the rise in the employment number derives from an increase in the temporary workers in the construction industry and that the quality of employment remain weak especially among the youth. Last month, some 162,000 workers were hired by builders on the back of booming property market.

The ministry plans to continue pushing for the supplementary budget to implement policies to create jobs and help the younger generation find work, and to mediate high-quality job opportunities between job seekers and small and mid-sized companies.

President Moon Jae-in has prioritized providing quality jobs for young people since taking office and prepared a 11.2 trillion-won ($9.94 billion) supplementary budget plan last week to create 110,000 jobs. (