The Korea Herald


[News Focus] Seoul No. 1 in jobless rate among 17 major regions

Sejong records lowest unemployment rate

By Kim Yon-se

Published : Sept. 5, 2021 - 15:15

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Ministry of Employment and Labor An Kyung-duk, center, waves a salute to online participants in a job fair, held in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province on Aug. 23. (Yonhap) Ministry of Employment and Labor An Kyung-duk, center, waves a salute to online participants in a job fair, held in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province on Aug. 23. (Yonhap)
SEJONG -- Seoul has the highest unemployment rate among the nation’s eight major cities and nine provinces, a government agency’s latest data showed.

According to Statistics Korea, the jobless rate for residents in Seoul reached 5.2 percent during the second quarter of this year, which far outstripped the nationwide average of 3.9 percent.

Compared to 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019 (a quarter before COVID-19 initially hit South Korea), the nationwide unemployment rate climbed by 0.8 percentage point. But Seoul posted a 1.7 percentage point growth from 3.5 percent.

The capital’s faster growth was attributed to a surge in the unemployment rate among those aged between 15-29 -- from 6.6 percent to 10.5 percent over the corresponding period.
(Graphic by Kim Sun-young/The Korea Herald) (Graphic by Kim Sun-young/The Korea Herald)

A local labor researcher said, “Since early 2020, many enterprises have pushed for layoffs of employees in their 20s with short careers and relatively weaker expertise. The situation is particularly seen in Seoul, where the dominant portion of companies are located.”

In addition, retailers like coffee shop or convenience store owners, both in Seoul and the other regions, have been more pessimistic in hiring employees in the wake of a drastic hike in minimum wages as well as the pandemic situation, he said.

In contrast, the jobless rate for Seoul citizens aged 30-59 and those aged 60 or over stayed at 3.7 percent and 4.8 percent in the second quarter of the year.

In a similar vein, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province saw their residents’ jobless rate exceed the nationwide average with 4.8 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively. Many enterprises are also clustered in the two areas, both of which make up the Seoul metropolitan area, alongside the capital.

While Incheon (the nation’s third-largest city) and Gyeonggi (the most populous region) ranked second and fourth in the unemployment rate, Daegu (the fourth-largest city) placed No. 3 with 4.3 percent.

As figures for those aged 15-29 came to 9.5 percent in Incheon, 9.7 percent in Gyeonggi and 10.3 percent in Daegu.

Among the next on the list of the 17 major regions were South Gyeongsang Province at 3.8 percent, Gwangju at 3.7 percent, North Gyeongsang Province at 3.7 percent, Ulsan at 3.6 percent, Busan at 3.5 percent. Daejeon and Jeju Province posted 3.4 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively.

The smallest unemployment rates were seen in both Sejong and South Jeolla Province with 2.1 percent. Sejong is an administration-oriented city where the nation’s largest government complex is located, and its population is the smallest among the 17. South Jeolla is an agriculture and fisheries-oriented province.

Though those aged 15-29 recorded a 5.3 percent unemployment rate in Sejong and 7.1 percent in South Jeolla, figures for those aged 30-59 and those aged 60 or over stayed under 2 percent in the two regions.

While the “official” unemployment rate nationwide -- publicized by the government -- was just 3.9 percent in the second quarter, the de facto jobless rate reached 13.1 percent as of June, according to the Supplementary Index III for Employment, an indicator held by Statistics Korea.

The Index III refers to the extended-based jobless rate, which reflects “underemployment” as well as unemployment. People deemed to be among the jobless include temporary employees who work fewer than 36 hours a week and want to work more hours, as well as seasonal workers who are out of work for part of the year.

The de facto unemployment rate for people aged 15-29 reached 23.5 percent as of June, under which 1.16 million of 4.97 million in the young age group were underemployed or unemployed.