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Growth in number of employed hits 21-year high

60-somethings make up largest portion in increase

By Kim Yon-se

Published : Feb. 16, 2022 - 16:17

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A bulletin board at the regional unit of Employment Welfare Plus Center in Seoul shows job information on Wednesday. (Yonhap) A bulletin board at the regional unit of Employment Welfare Plus Center in Seoul shows job information on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
SEJONG -- The number of employed in South Korea surged by more than 1 million in January, compared to a year earlier, on the back of both a base effect and economic recovery, state data showed Wednesday.

According to Statistics Korea, the number of employed increased by 1.13 million in January on-year to 26.95 million. This marked the highest growth in more than 21 years since the tally shot up 1.21 million in March 2000.

Women outnumbered men by about 24,000 -- 579,000 vs. 555,000 -- in the growth of hiring tally.

The performance, despite the ongoing pandemic, is mainly attributed to a base effect. Base effect refers to how an economic indicator -- in this case, the number of employed -- can be exaggerated depending on the corresponding period. About 980,000 jobs disappeared as part of a hiring market crisis in January 2021, according to officials at the state-run agency.

Nonetheless, officials clarified that the employment index has recently improved, buoyed by rebounds in a variety of economic indices involving brisk exports.

Statistics Korea data also showed that the number of employed increased for the 11th consecutive month on an on-year basis starting from March 2021.

A noteworthy point is that the tally for jobs increased in all age groups last month -- by 273,000 for those in their 20s, 22,000 in their 30s, 24,000 in their 40s, 245,000 in their 50s and 522,000 in their 60s or over.

But this data showed that those aged 60 or over still accounted for a dominant part of the increased number of employed people.

Of the total 550,000 increase for the male employed, 54.5 percent (303,000) were people in their 60s or over. As for women, those in their 60s or over made up 37.8 percent (219,000) of the total growth of 579,000 females employed.

By industrial sector, lodging and food services, which took a hard hit from COVID-19, saw the number of jobs increase by 128,000. The heath and social welfare sector also recorded an increase by 250,000.

While manufacturing and logistics reported growth of 66,000 and 121,000, respectively, the wholesale-retail sector suffered decline by 56,000. The decrease was also seen in finance-insurance by 15,000.

Last month, the number of jobless decreased by 427,000 on-year to 1.14 million, with the unemployment rate falling by 1.6 percentage points to 4.1 percent.

But the figures showed that the number and rate of jobless increased compared to the previous month. The corresponding figures were 979,000 and 3.5 percent in December 2021, respectively. Further, the unemployment rate for women increased from 4 percent in December to 4.9 percent in January.

The employment rate for the total economically active population stood at 59.6 percent last month, with the figure for the working age population of people aged 15-64 reaching 67 percent.

On the same day, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki pointed to the simultaneous increase in the number of jobs in all age groups while presiding over a ministerial meeting. Participants in the meeting stressed it was the first time in 90 months that there was an increase in all age groups.

“Though there was a base effect in January, there has been an apparent improvement in employment in terms of (both) quantity and quality,” Hong said.