The Korea Herald


Tally for unemployed falls to 730,000 in Nov.: data

More than 3 million Koreans still de facto jobless

By Kim Yon-se

Published : Dec. 15, 2021 - 15:40

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Economy-Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki (Yonhap) Economy-Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki (Yonhap)

SEJONG -- The number of employed in the nation increased by 553,000 in November, compared to a year earlier, continuing improvement in the hiring index over the past few months, state data showed Wednesday.

But the number of de facto jobless -- unemployed plus underemployed -- still surpassed 3 million, with the actual jobless rate reaching 11 percent. The Ministry of Economy and Finance maintained that the “official” tally for the jobless and jobless rate stayed at 734,000 and 2.6 percent, respectively.

According to Statistics Korea, the employment rate climbed by 0.8 percentage point on-year to 61.5 percent last month as the number of employed, aged 15 or over, increased by 2 percent (553,000) to 27.79 million.

People aged 60 or over took the lead in the increase as the number of employed increased by 331,000 in the oldest age group, followed by 156,000 among those in their 20s and 149,000 among those in their 50s.

In contrast, the figure declined by 69,000 among those in their 30s and 27,000 among those in their 40s.

By industry, the tally for the employed increased by 279,000 (11.6 percent) in the health-social welfare sector, 148,000 (9.8 percent) in logistics and 106,000 (12.6 percent) in information-telecommunications.

But the figure decreased by 123,000 (3.5 percent) in the wholesale-retail sector, 86,000 (4 percent) in lodging-food services and 81,000 (6.3 percent) in public administration.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said the employment rate for those aged 15-64, or the working age population, has “climbed to 67.5 percent, which is the highest level since the nation started compiling the relevant data in 1989 on the basis of each November.”

Hong said the hiring index has almost rebounded to the level before the pandemic. As the data showed on-year increase for the 10th consecutive month in the number of employed, he said “the employment has been in a steady improvement.”

He, nonetheless, pointed out rising uncertainty in the wake of the omicron variant of COVID-19.

The government highlighted that the number of unemployed decreased by 233,000 (24.1 percent) on-year to stay at 734,000 in November. It also said the jobless rate fell by 0.8 percentage point to 2.6 percent.

The figures are in contrast to 3.32 million and 11 percent, which are the number of “extended-based” (or de facto) unemployed and unemployment rate, according to the Supplementary Index III for Employment. This is a new measurement of calculating unemployment by Statistics Korea.

The Index III counts “underemployed” people among the de facto unemployed. This category includes those who work fewer than 36 hours a week and want to work more, as well as seasonal workers who are out of work for part of the year.

By Kim Yon-se (