In another positive sign pointing to an economy bottoming out, South Korea’s payroll data showed a significant improvement in March with people with jobs increasing by the biggest number in 15 months. But the figure may be illusory as the job additions were mostly in part-timers aged 50 or older while the 40s or younger that became redundant were forced to open business.
According to March employment data released by the Statistics Korea on Wednesday, the number of employed stood at 26,267,000, up 466,000 from the same month last year. The year-on-year addition is the largest since December 2015. It had declined to around 200,000 in December-January period and recovered to above 300,000 in February and strengthened for the second straight month.
The wholesale and retail sector as well as construction field largely attributed to the jump in the employment data in March as they added 116,000 jobs and 164,000 jobs, respectively, from a year-ago period.
Factory payroll, however, lost 83,000 over the same period, continuing a downward trend for the ninth straight month amid ongoing restructuring in overcapacity industries to suggest that redundant workforce used their retirement and severance funds to open up mom-and-pop store after failing to find replacement salary job. As a result, the number of self-employed increased 127,000 to 5,615,000.
By age group, the employment tally for 60 years or older people increased by 272,000, and 50 or older by 199,000. Those in 20s added 34,000. But the number of employed among those in their 40s and 30s decreased by 430,000 and 9,000, respectively.
The employment rate rose 0.6 percentage point to 60.2 percent, the highest figure for March in 20 years. The employment rate among the age group of 15 to 29 reached 41.8 percent, the highest for March in 10 years.
The number of jobless people came at 1,143,000, down 12,000 from a year ago.
The unemployment rate fell 0.1 percentage point to 4.2 percent. The jobless rate for the age group of 15 to 29 declined 0.5 percentage point to 11.3 percent.
By Kim Gyu-sik
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]