SEJONG, Aug. 29 (Korea Bizwire) — Corporate restructuring-hit regions in South Korea logged higher jobless rates, data showed on Wednesday, adding to concerns that the current employment market slump may become a long-drawn affair.
According to the numbers released by Statistics Korea, the jobless rate in Geoje, home to the country’s major shipyards, including Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., stood at a very high 7 percent in the first six months of the year, up 4.1 percentage points from the year earlier period.
The figure marks the highest unemployment rate ever since 2013 related job data in major cities began to be compiled.
The unemployment rate for Tongyeong, another city struggling with massive corporate restructuring, running at 6.2 percent, also up 2.5 percentage points higher than a year earlier.
Gunsan, where General Motors’ money-losing assembly line was shut down in June, posted a jobless rate of 4.1 percent, also up 2.5 percentage points from a year earlier.
In May, South Korea designated Ulsan, Geoje, Mokpo and several other regions, home to the country’s shipbuilders and other manufacturing industries, as emergency response zones so as to provide job support and tax incentives.
The designation came as local shipbuilders have suffered a drawn-out dry spell, which has forced many to slash jobs.
Government data showed that the number of jobs increased by only 5,000 from a year earlier in July, compared with 106,000 new jobs added to the local market in the previous month. It marked the slowest job growth since January 2010.
The poorer-than-expected jobs data is a hard blow to President Moon Jae-in, whose top economic agenda is to create more quality jobs.
In addition to restructuring, the dismal employment numbers come as the rise in the country’s legal minimum wage may be affecting the retail sector that traditionally hires unskilled workers.