The number of the employed increased by merely 3,000 year on year last month, the smallest ever in eight years and seven months. Besides, the youth unemployment rate hit a 19-year high, eclipsing the government’s desperate job creation efforts.
According to Statistics Korea on September 12, the number of employed persons added up to 26,907,000 last month. The number showed a year-on-year increase of 5,000 in July, but the increment dropped to 3,000 in the following month.
Those aged 15 to 29 posted a year-on-year decline of 40,000 and those in their 30s and 40s recorded a decline of 78,000 and 158,000, respectively. The third figure was the highest since December 1991 and exceeded the population decrease in the same age group, 107,000.
In the manufacturing sector, the number of the employed fell by 105,000 and for the fifth consecutive month with restructuring going on in sectors such as automobile and shipbuilding. Negative growth continued for nine and 15 months in a row in wholesale & retail and lodging & food service, respectively.
The number of unemployed persons topped one million for the eighth consecutive month as in the period of June 1999 to March 2000. The overall unemployment rate rose 0.4 percentage points to 4.0%. That of those aged 15 to 29 reached 10%, the worst August record since 1999. The number and rate were 43,000 and 29.8% for those in their 40s, 36,000 and 22.9% for 50s, 26,000 and 13.9% for 30s, and 25,000 and 6.5% for 20s.
The employment rate reflecting population factors fell 0.3 percentage points to 60.9%, refuting the Blue House’s claim that the ongoing drop in employment is because of a decrease in population. Repercussions of the government’s minimum wage policy became evident. The number of those working for their families without pay jumped by 12,000 while 123,000, 79,000 and 117,000 jobs disappeared from wholesale & retail, lodging & food service, and business facility management. Part-time jobs for less than 36 hours a week soared no less than 1,368,000.
The government said that the indices would get better over time as its income-led growth policy kicks in. Still, experts advised the government to change its course without delay.