Jobless Rate at 19-Year High | Be Korea-savvy

Jobless Rate at 19-Year High

(Image: Korea Bizwire)

(Image: Korea Bizwire)

SEOUL, Sept. 13 (Korea Bizwire) The frozen job market in South Korea is showing no signs of thawing.

Disappearing part-time jobs at restaurants, wholesale and retail businesses are deteriorating the outlook for young people, as unemployment approaches the rock bottom felt during the financial crisis in the late 1990s.

The employment data for August 2018 announced by Statistics Korea on September 12 said there were 26.9 million jobs in the country, up by 3,000 from the same month last year.

Job market growth has been very sluggish, as only 100,000 jobs were created from February to July combined. 

The manufacturing, wholesale, retail and education sectors lost the most  jobs. The manufacturing sector lost 105,000 jobs compared to last year, primarily due to the restructuring of shipbuilders and automakers.  The sector has lost jobs in five consecutive months.

Wholesale and retail, as well as lodging and restaurant businesses, are also suffering. These sectors lost 123,000 jobs and 79,000 jobs, respectively.

Looking into demographical data, 158,000 people in their 40s lost their jobs, for the biggest fall since December 1999 when 259,000 in their 40s received pink slips.

The number of unemployed individuals totaled 1.13 million, up 134,000 from the previous year. This accounted for a 0.3 percentage point drop in the employment rate, which was 60.9 percent.

This number is the highest since August 1999, at the outbreak of the financial crisis that rocked South Korea.

The unemployment rate rose 0.4 percent last year to 4.0 percent, and 10 percent of young jobseekers aged 15 to 29 were jobless. This is the highest monthly rate since August 1999 at 10.7 percent.

The tough job market can be attributed to the difficulties experienced by restaurant, wholesale and retail businesses that usually hire a lot of young part-timers. This could be the result of the increase to the minimum wage.

“Normally, this age group is willing to offer labor services to restaurants, wholesalers and retailers, but it seems like there isn’t enough demand for labor out there,” said Bin Hyun-joon, the director of the Employment Statistics Division at Statistics Korea. 

“Our economy isn’t doing well, and we’re losing jobs in wholesale, retail, facilities and manufacturing businesses,” Bin continued.

“I don’t think slowing population growth can alone explain why we are not creating enough jobs.”

Joey Yoo (

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