SEJONG, March 16 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea’s youth jobless rate surged to an all-time high of 12.5 percent in February, a government report said Wednesday, underlying the growing number of college graduates failing to land jobs due to the sluggish economy.
Statistics Korea said the nation’s overall jobless rate stood at 4.9 percent last month, up from 3.7 percent in January. The February reading also marks a 0.4 percentage point rise from the year before, the agency said in its monthly job market report.
The agency noted that a total of 560,000 people aged between 15 and 29 remained out of work last month, pushing up their unemployment rate to a record high of 12.5 percent, up sharply from 9.5 percent tallied a month earlier.
The February figure for the young people group represents the highest monthly tally since the agency started compiling related data in 1999.
The number of employed people reached 25.41 million last month, with 223,000 new jobs being created compared with the year before, the report showed. The February job growth was the lowest in 12 months.
Statistics Korea said the record-high youth unemployment rate came as a great number of college seniors flooded into the job market upon graduation in February, with increasing part-time job seekers also included in the jobless rate.
“Usually, unemployment rate rises during the January-February period, which overlaps with the college winter vacation and graduation season,” said Sim Won-bo, head of the agency’s employment statistics division.
In particular, more than 222,000 young people applied for a nationwide civil service exam in mid-February for 4,120 government posts, up from 190,000 applicants in 2015.
“We see the increase in the government exam applicants as a factor pushing up the youth jobless rate by 0.5 percentage point,” said the Statistics Korea official.
He also explained that the cold weather and the Lunar New Year’s holidays prevented the agriculture and fishery sectors from hiring more people, which lead to a rise in the entire unemployment rate.’