Jobless rate at 3% as more find work

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Jobless rate at 3% as more find work

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Last month, 265,000 more people found jobs compared to a year ago, raising the total number of employed in Korea to 25.4 million people from 25.1 million in April.

So is Korea’s employment situation improving? Not entirely, as both the employment rate and unemployment rate retreated.

The employment rate, which is the percentage of economically active people aged 15 or older, fell 1 percentage point from the same period last year to 60.4 percent. The rate for both men and women fell 0.1 percentage point each compared to a year ago to 71.6 percent for men and 49.7 percent for women.

The unemployment rate also was 0.1 percentage point less than the previous year at 3 percent. While a decline in the unemployment rate is welcome, coupled with a falling employment rate it could indicate job opportunities have become tighter and the number of active job seekers has shrunk. In April, 345,000 more people found jobs compared to April last year.

Furthermore, the economically inactive population, such as those who have given up looking for work or students, grew by 273,000 from a year ago to 15.9 million.

The number of people in their 20s with jobs declined by 53,000 year-on-year, the 13th consecutive monthly drop. Those in their 40s with jobs numbered 28,000 less than a year ago. In contrast, the total number of people who have jobs in their 30s, 50s and 60s grew by 11,000, 230,000 and 136,000.

By industry, manufacturing jobs grew 2.6 percent, increasing for the 11th straight month, while financial industry jobs were up 3.4 percent.

Jobs related to arts, sports and leisure fell 10 percent, while education service industry positions were down 2.3 percent.

According to the Bank of Korea last Friday, Korea’s economy grew 0.8 percent in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter last year, and 1.5 percent year-on-year.

Quarterly growth has remained below 1 percent since the second quarter of 2011.

The Park administration last week unveiled a plan to raise the employment rate to 70 percent within five years. It has been about 60 percent since 2003.

To do so, the government plans to increase participation of women in the economy, while raising the quality number and competitiveness of small and midsize companies as well as the service industry, which is a shift from a male-dominated, long-hour manufacturing and conglomerate centered economic structure.

By Lee ho-jeong [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]

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