Restructuring hits S. Gyeongsang job market

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Restructuring hits S. Gyeongsang job market

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The restructuring of the shipping and shipbuilding industries is starting to affect the job market in Korea.

Even though the nationwide unemployment rate dropped 0.3 percentage points to 3.6 percent in June, the job rate in South Gyeongsang, with a regional industry that is mostly ship-related, rose 1 percentage point to 3.9 percent compared to a year ago. The 1 percentage point figure was the highest growth rate in the nation last month. This was the second consecutive month that the unemployment rate has grown by more than 1 percentage point year-on-year, Statistics Korea said on Wednesday.

“We can’t say for sure that the rate for South Gyeongsang is rising due to the restructuring, but we can say that it might have affected the rate since the number of workers in the manufacturing industry fell rapidly,” said Sim Won-bo, a director at Statistics Korea.

In fact, the figure for the region showed growth at the beginning of the year. In January, South Gyeongsang’s unemployment rate rose 0.5 percentage points from the previous year and grew 0.7 percentage points each in March and April.

South Gyeongsang’s unemployment rate was the third lowest last year, but it has jumped to the third highest in the nation this year among 16 major provinces and cities, according to Statistics Korea. “We didn’t analyze the specific data per region but we did find out that the number of people working in the manufacturing industry continues to drop in South Gyeongsang,” said Sim.

In fact, data showed that fewer people found new jobs in manufacturing compared to the past. There were 15,000 people who found new jobs in the manufacturing sector last month, down from 124,000 in March and 50,000 in May.

“The figure is the lowest since August 2013 when it only reached 5,000,” Sim added.

South Gyeongsang wasn’t the only area whose unemployment rate was affected by the ongoing corporate restructuring. The unemployment rate for North Jeolla rose 0.9 percentage points and increased 0.6 percentage points in South Jeolla. These two regions also have many businesses in the shipbuilding sector.

“We believe the rate for such regions related to shipbuilding will continue to grow for a considerable amount of time, since many shipbuilding companies will precede their restructuring plans,” said Kim Yi-han, a director at the Ministry of Strategy and Finance. “We need to execute the supplementary budget as soon as possible in order to minimize the negative impact coming from restructuring later this year.”

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for job seekers ages 15 to 29 was 10.3 percent, an increase of 0.6 percentage points from the previous month. The figure was also 0.1 percentage point higher compared to the previous year.

“The youth unemployment rate tends to be higher in June since this is the month when many young people are taking government job entry exams after they were accepted for the first round of the job application process,” said Sim.

The employment rate for people ages 15 to 64 rose 0.5 percentage points from the previous year to 66.5 percent in June.

The number of employees in their 30s and 40s dropped 33,000 and 28,000 each, while it rose for people older than 50. There were 88,000 more workers in their 50s and 197,000 more in their 60s who were working as of June compared to the previous year.

The employment rate for men rose 0.7 percentage points to 71.7 percent in June from the previous year, and it rose 0.4 percentage points to 51.1 percent for women.

By sector, there were more people working in the service and hospitality fields. The number of people working in agriculture and retail has fallen from a year ago.


BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]
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