Unemployment hits eleven-month high

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Unemployment hits eleven-month high

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Korea’s jobless rate jumped to the highest level in 11 months in February, indicating that conditions in the job market remain cloudy despite the continued recovery of the economy, a report showed yesterday.

The unemployment rate stood at 4.2 percent last month, up from 3.5 percent in January, according to the report by Statistics Korea. This was the highest since March last year when it reached 4.3 percent.

Job creation also decelerated, with a total of 447,000 new jobs added to payrolls in February compared with the period a year earlier. This also marked an on-month slowdown from the tally of 536,000 posted in January.

“The jobless rate tends to rise in February as soon-to-be graduates start to find work. Additionally, as more people applied for government-led job programs and public-sector positions, the figure seems to have increased further,” the agency said in a press release.

The seasonally-adjusted employment rate, which excluded those job seekers, rose to 3.7 percent from the previous month’s 3.2 percent, the report showed.

The latest job data comes as the country’s economy continues to recover despite lingering global market uncertainties such as the fiscal debt crisis in the euro zone and a possible global slowdown.

Korea posted a trade surplus of $2.2 billion in February, buoyed by a steady rise in overseas demand for locally made goods. This was a turnaround from the $2 billion deficit tallied the previous month. Exports totaled $47.2 billion last month, up a solid 22.7 percent on-year, with imports jumping 23.6 percent to $45 billion.

“It seems that the jobless rate rose in February, partly due to a rise in the economically active population, which means that more people began searching for jobs,” said Jeon Min-kyu, an economist at Korea Investment & Securities.

“More people seem to be resuming job-seeking efforts, emboldened by improving economic conditions.”

The economically active population reached 24.8 million, up 394,000 or 1.6 percent from the same month a year earlier, according to the report.

The labor market conditions, however, remain especially tough for younger people.

The unemployment rate for those aged between 15 and 29 stood at 8.3 percent in February, up from 8 percent a month earlier. This is the highest rate since last April, when it stood at 8.7 percent, the report showed. Yonhap

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