South Korea’s on-year job addition bounced back above the 300,000 mark in January for the first time in four months despite the worries over 16.4-percent minimum wage hike forcing employers to cut jobs, government data showed on Wednesday.
According to employment data released by the Statistics Korea, the number of employed in January stood at 26,213,000, up 334,000 from the same month last year. The on-year gain rebounded to above 300,000 after remaining in the 200,000 level for the last three consecutive months.
By sector, manufacturing and construction industries added jobs while jobs in educational service and wholesale/retail sectors contracted compared to a year earlier.
Regularly-paying factory jobs gained by 106,000 on year and maintained growth for the second consecutive month. Improvement in the manufacturing sector helped the country add new jobs last month, said the statistics office but it also attributed the gain to the base effect as restructuring at shipyards in the second half of 2016 and onward resulted in massive layoffs in the previous year.
The number of restaurant and hotel jobs contracted by 31,000 on year, but on-year loss was smaller than that of the previous month with 58,000. There have been concerns that job market, especially the service sector would be hurt significantly following a 16.4-percent minimum wage hike launched in January.
The employment rate in January rose 0.4 percentage point to 59.5 percent from a year ago. The employment rate of people aged between 15 and 64, the standard of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), increased 0.7 percentage point on year to 66.2 percent.
But the country’s job market conditions still remain weak with the number of unemployed rising back to the 1 million threshold after four months of hovering below the level, government data showed.
The number of jobless people in the country increased 12,000 on year to 1,020,000 last month.
The jobless rate came at 3.7 percent, unchanged from a year ago.
The unemployment rate of the youth aged between 15 and 29 stood at 8.7 percent last month, up 0.1 percentage point from a year ago. The real youth unemployment rate that reflects the actual number of unemployed including part-time workers and people in between jobs seeking full-time employment fell 0.8 percentage point on year to 21.8 percent. It is the first time for the real youth unemployment rate to drop since March 2017.
By Lee Yu-sup and Cho Jeehyun
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