Service sector delivers higher job numbers

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Service sector delivers higher job numbers

August saw the largest amount of hiring made so far this year, mostly in the service sector as the number of people employed in manufacturing fell for a second straight month largely due to restructuring in the shipping and shipbuilding industries.

According to Statistics Korea, 387,000 more people found jobs in August compared to a year ago, bringing the total number of employed Koreans to 26.5 million. The last month that the year-on-year jump in the number of new hires amounted to more than that was last December.

The increase last month largely came from the service sector, which saw 524,000 more new hires compared to a year ago. That growth represents double the size in hiring made a year ago in the same sector.

“Employment expanded largely centered on the service and construction industries, while manufacturing job opportunities were limited because of restructuring [in the shipping and shipbuilding industries],” said an official from the Ministry of Strategy and Finance.

Lodging and restaurants hired 103,000 more than a year ago, a 4.6 percent increase. The health and welfare services industry hired 5.5 percent more people in August from a year earlier, an increase of 98,000 jobs, while the construction industry raised the number of people hired by 3.9 percent, or 71,000 jobs.

The total number of people working in service and construction now amounts to 20.7 million people, making up 78 percent of employed people. In a sign of the times, manufacturing saw the number of new hires shrink 1.6 percent, or 74,000 jobs, compared to a year ago. The agricultural and fishing industry saw a decline of 4.5 percent, or 67,000 jobs.

Unemployment overall saw a slight increase from July, mostly from a rise in the number of those aged 15 to 29 who had trouble finding jobs.

In August, the overall unemployment rate inched up 3.5 percent from the previous month’s 3.6 percent. The unemployment rate was also 0.2 percentage points higher than a year ago.

For those aged 15 to 29, the unemployment rate was 9.3 percent in August, up from 9.2 percent in July and even higher than the 8 percent reported a year ago. By city, Incheon had the highest unemployment rate with 4.4 percent, closely followed by Seoul with 4.3 percent.

It was South Gyeongsang and Ulsan, though, that saw the sharpest unemployment rate increase compared to a year ago. These areas are at the heart of the nation’s shipping and shipbuilding industries. In their heyday, South Gyeongsang and Ulsan used to have the lowest unemployment and highest average wages in the country.

The recent restructuring has taken a toll on the region’s unemployment numbers with South Gyeongsang’s rising 1.6 percentage points from a year ago to 3.7 percent and Ulsan’s up 1.2 percentage points to 4 percent.

This is a stark contrast to Incheon. Although the western port city had the highest unemployment rate in the country, it was still a 0.3 percentage point fall from last year.


BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]
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