S.Korea's youth jobless rate hits 18-year high, job growth slows

Added On September 13, 2017

SEOUL, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- Jobless rate among South Korean youths rose to the highest in about 18 years, with job growth slowing down amid the still lackluster labor market, a government report showed Wednesday.

Official unemployment rate stood at 3.6 percent in August, unchanged compared with the same month of last year, according to Statistics Korea.

The jobless rate among youths aged 15-29 rose 0.1 percentage point from a year earlier to 9.4 percent last month, marking the highest since August 1999 when the Asian foreign exchange crisis rattled the South Korean economy.

The so-called "sentiment" jobless rate for the younger generation advanced 1 percentage point to 22.5 percent in the cited period.

The official unemployment rate refers to those who were immediately available for work but failed to get a job in the past four weeks despite efforts to actively seek a job.

The sentiment rate adds those who are too discouraged to seek a job, those who work part-time against their will to work full-time and those who prepare to get a job after college graduation to the official jobless rate.

The sentiment rate began to be compiled in January 2015 to more accurately reflect labor market conditions.

The number of those unemployed was 1,001,000 in August, topping the 1 million level in just two months. It was up 5,000 from a year earlier.

The sentiment jobless rate for all ages stood at 11.2 percent last month, up 1 percentage point from a year ago.

The new government under President Moon Jae-in, who took office in early May, put its top priority on job creation, but its job-creating policy had yet to take effect.

The government allotted 11.2 trillion won (10 billion U.S. dollars) the second-half supplementary budget, which was passed through the parliament in late July.

The services industry, including the tourism sector, was hit hardest as the number of Chinese tourists to South Korea continued to decline.

Private consumption had yet to get back into a full recovery track, creating a vicious cycle of fewer hiring by firms and in consequence less spending by consumers.

The number of those who prepare to get a decent job reached 695,000 in August, up 59,000 from a year earlier.

Those who were too discouraged to seek a job increased 62,000 from a year earlier to 484,000 in the same period.

Discouraged workers are those who want to work and are available to do so but failed to get a job due to tough labor market conditions. They are those who looked for a job sometime for the past 12 months.

The so-called "take-a-rest" group jumped 217,000 in August from a year ago. The group refers to those who replied that they took a rest during a job survey period. The group is important as it can include those who are unemployed and too discouraged to search for work for an extended period of time.

Meanwhile, job growth fell to the lowest in four and a half years, reflecting the tougher labor market conditions.

The number of those employed was 26,740,000 in August, up 212,000 from the same month of last year. It marked the lowest increase since February 2013.

The job increase stayed above 300,000 for six months through July, before falling below the level in August.

Job creation in the wholesale and retail industry turned around, but the figures in the construction and real estate sectors turned sour as the government unveiled a set of measures to control speculative investment in the property market.

The employment in the construction sector grew by 34,000 in August from a year earlier. The sector's growth stayed above 100,000 for six straight months through July.

The job creation in the restaurant and science services sectors declined last month, contributing to the worsened labor market conditions.

The number of those hired by manufacturers rose 25,000 last month, keeping an upward momentum for the third consecutive month.

The self-employed fell by 3,000 in August, marking the first decline in a year. The statistical agency attributed the fall to a correction from the big increase in recent months.

The hiring rate stood at 61.1 percent in August, up 0.1 percentage point from a year earlier.