South Korea’s unemployment rate and the jobless count ticked up in April from a year earlier, posting the worst April figures since 2000 in the wake of the Asian financial crisis. The pace of job growth also slowed from the previous two months.
The unemployment rate was 4.4 percent last month, up 0.3 percentage point from the same month a year earlier, according to Statistics Korea on Wednesday. Unemployment in the country as a whole rose 84,000 to 1.25 million during the same period.
The economy added 171,000 jobs in April, retreating from job gains of 263,000 in February and 250,000 in March. Monthly job additions that had sustained 200,000-300,000 levels until January 2018 fell sharply to 104,000 the following month and remained subdued for 12 straight months, adding just 19,000 jobs this January.
Health and social welfare service sectors led the pack in growth, adding 127,000 positions, thanks to government-backed public hiring. Education services (55,000) and science and tech services (49,000) also saw jobs expand.
But retail and wholesale sectors slashed 76,000 jobs last month. The pace of job cuts was also rapid for facilities management and leasing services (53,000) and manufacturing (52,000).
The manufacturing sector has been shedding jobs since April 2018, but the job cuts were halved from the previous month thanks to improved recruitment in chemical industries.
Job gains for people aged 60 and older was 335,000, followed by 50s at 65,000 and 20s at 21,000. But for the prime labor force in their 40s and 30s, 187,000 and 90,000 jobs were lost, respectively, due to the continued job cuts in manufacturing, where a majority of the workers are employed.
The unemployment rate for youth aged 15 to 29 also hit a 19-year high at 11.5 percent in April, up 0.8 percentage point from the year-ago period.
By Kim Tae-joon and Kim Hyo-jin
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]