SEJONG, March 18 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s jobless rate rose sharply in February from a month earlier due to seasonal factors and more people seeking work, a government report said Wednesday.
According to the report by Statistics Korea, the jobless rate stood at 4.6 percent last month, up from 3.8 percent in January and 0.1 percentage point higher than the year before. The seasonally adjusted jobless rate also rose 0.5 percentage point from 3.4 percent to 3.9 percent.
The unemployment rate is the highest tallied since February of 2010, with the statistical office pointing out that seasonal factors almost always cause numbers to rise in the month.
“February is a month when students are on school break and when people graduate so it invariably affects unemployment numbers,” said Sim Won-bo, head of the agency’s employment statistics division. Unemployment is calculated by the number of people who want jobs but have failed to secure a post.
He added that while unemployment has risen, so have the numbers of jobs and total number of people with jobs.
The number of employed people topped 25.19 million last month from under 25.11 million in January with 376,000 new jobs being created compared with the year before, the report showed. The increase in jobs surpassed the 347,000 positions created in January but fell short of the 422,000 new jobs tallied for December. The latest numbers showed the unemployment rate for young people, between the ages of 15 and 29, stood at 11.1 percent in February, up significantly from 9.2 percent tallied a month earlier. The February figure for the age group represents the highest monthly tally since corresponding data began to be compiled in 2000.
The employment rate for young people, on the other hand, stood at 41.1 percent or a gain of 0.5 percent from the year before.
The labor underutilization indicator hit 12.5 percent last month, the highest reading since the government started checking such data last May.
This indicator is based on guidelines made by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and reflects the number of people who are “underemployed” and those who currently hold part-time jobs but want full-time work.
It also counts unemployed people who have given up looking for work not by choice but due to circumstances, which makes them potential job seekers. A rise in this number is an indication that employment conditions felt by ordinary people are worse than what official jobless figures show.
The agency started to provide the indicator late last year to provide a more accurate picture of the country’s labor market situation.
Despite the rise in unemployment, the statistical office said February marked the first time that monthly employment figures surpassed the 25 million mark, which, along with January, is usually a slow month for jobs. The government started taking monthly employment statistics in July 1982.