Unemployment figures disputed

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Unemployment figures disputed

A local research institute said the unemployment experienced by young job seekers in Korea is higher than the official data released last year by the state-run Statistics Korea.

Statistics Korea strongly refuted the findings afterwards.

According to the report issued by the Hyundai Research Institute on Tuesday, 34 percent of young people in Korea feel as if they are unemployed, which translates to 17.9 million people.

This is much higher than the official unemployment rate announced by Statistics Korea last August, which put it at only 8 percent or 345,000 people. If those who are only categorized as employed because they either have a part-time job or are studying for company entrance exams are included, the rate increased to 22.6 percent or 1.1 million people.

But this most recent report argued that the number should also include those who are employed as contract workers and those who are taking a break from their job search.

Contract workers should be counted as unemployed because of the substandard quality of their working environment, including salary, pension and insurance, it argued. Those taking a break should also be considered unemployed because they are “generating a socioeconomic loss.”

The report also said more men felt unemployed than women.

According to the data, 37.1 percent of young Korean men felt unemployed, compared with 31.4 percent of young women.

The report said that discrepancy comes from the tendency of male job seekers to wait longer before accepting a job because they don’t want to compromise on their company.

By age range, those between 20 and 24 years old were more desperate to find the right job compared to those between the ages of 25 and 29.

Forty-one percent of those in the younger age range felt unemployed, compared to 27.6 percent in the older range.

Statistics Korea issued stern rebuke after the report was released, saying it didn’t follow the official standards laid out by the International Labour Organization. It also said that the index used to compile the data had been “arbitrarily used to distort the results.”

The release pointed out that several other recent reports compiled by Hyundai Research Institute used inaccurate standards and made-up words to provide misleading data.

In one example, Statistics Korea claimed a report from the institute last August on economic sentiment was based on the respondents’ subjective feelings instead of objective data.

BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]

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