SEJONG, Sept. 13 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea’s jobless rate increased slightly in August from a year earlier, with the unemployment rate for young adults still remaining high amid a prolonged economic slump, a government report showed Tuesday.
The unemployment rate in Asia’s fourth-largest economy stood at 3.6 percent last month, compared with 3.5 percent tallied in July, according to the report compiled by Statistics Korea.
The number of employed people stood at 26.5 million in August, up 387,000 from a year earlier, with the monthly gain expanding sharply from the previous month’s 298,000.
The unemployment rate for young people, aged between 15 and 29, reached 9.3 percent last month, up slightly from July’s 9.2 percent.
The statistics agency said the monthly gain in employment is led by the construction, wholesale and retail sectors.
Local builders hired an additional 71,000 people last month from a year ago on the back of a fresh boom in the real estate market, while wholesale and retail companies employed 38,000 more workers in preparation for the Chuseok fall harvest holiday.
However, the sluggish manufacturing sector clouded the monthly job creation as the country’s exports have remained in doldrums for nearly two years.
The number of employees at manufacturing companies fell by 74,000 last month from a year earlier, marking the largest on-year drop since April 2012, when the comparable figure was 80,000.
“The manufacturing industry is directly affected by exports, which have just snapped the 19-month consecutive negative growth in August,” said Sim Won-bo, the head of the agency’s employment statistics division.
“The shipbuilding sector has been undergoing harsh restructuring, which also pushed up unemployment as a whole.”
South Korea’s outbound shipments, the key economic driver, rose 2.6 percent in August to record positive growth for the first time in 20 months thanks largely to one-off factors like increased working days.
At the same time, the country has been carrying out a restructuring drive in the shipbuilding and other financially shaky sectors amid contracted global demand, with the country’s leading shipyards including Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. struggling with financial strain.
In particular, the regions where these major shipyards are located showed clear signs of sharp downturns in the number of employees.
The unemployment rate in Ulsan, where the country’s No. 1 shipyard Hyundai Heavy Industries is headquartered, soared 1.2 percentage points on-year to a 16 year-high of 4 percent.
South Gyeongsang Province saw its rate gain 1.6 percentage points to 3.7 percent over the one-year period, marking the highest rate since 1999 in the aftermath of the 1997 Asian financial crisis.