South Korea’s job additions in February were the lowest in eight years in stark comparison to near perfect employment in the United States and Japan.
According to February employment data released by the Statistics Korea on Wednesday, the number of employed stood at 26,083,000, up 104,000 from the same month last year. The year-on-year addition is the lowest since January 2010.
The slowdown and reduction in jobs were across the board. Wholesale and retail sector lost 92,000 workers after the minimum wage was raised by double digits from January. For the same reason, the education services and rental and repair services sector that mostly hire part-time and irregular workers shed 54,000 and 31,000 jobs, respectively. The number of self-employed declined by 42,000 compared to a year earlier, another evidence of the higher wage cost making a toll on small-scale services industry.
Regularly-paying factory jobs added 4,000 jobs on year, significantly lower than 106,000 additions in January. Construction sector added 64,000 jobs, public service 59,000 jobs, and finance/insurance 56,000 jobs.
The employment rate in February reached 59.2 percent, marginally down by 0.1 percentage point 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), rose 0.1 percentage point on year to 65.8 percent.
The unemployment data increased as more seniors settled for underpaid irregular jobs.
The number of jobless people fell by 76,000 to hit 1,265,000 in February as the unemployment tally for those in 50s or older increased while the figures for those in 20s and 30s declined on year.
The overall jobless rate fell 0.3 percentage point on year to 4.6 percent.
Youth jobless rate eased 2.5 percentage points on year to 9.8 percent, the lowest for February since 2013. The office, however, said the February data may not be reliable as it did not count in the number of jobseekers preparing for the regular state exam for government employees whose test date was pushed to the end of the month.
Real youth unemployment rate that reflects the actual number of unemployed including part-time workers and people in between jobs seeking full-time employment decreased 1.9 percentage points to 22.8 percent compared to a year earlier.
By Lee Yu-sup and Cho Jeehyun
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