Moon’s new jobs campaign stumbled in Oct.

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Moon’s new jobs campaign stumbled in Oct.

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Last month, 297,000 new jobs were added when compared to a year ago, a 1 percent increase. However, this was a drop from the 314,000 jobs created in September. The unemployment rate for young people also remained relatively high.

The figures were disappointing for the Moon Jae-in administration, which has promised more jobs, especially for the young.

While the deceleration last month was largely because of a sag in employment in the services sector, particularly in lodgings and restaurants, some young people may have been holding out for new jobs in the public sector promised by the current administration.

According to Statistics Korea Wednesday, the number of people employed in the lodging and restaurant industry in October dropped 22,000 when compared to a year ago. This is double an 11,000 drop reported a month earlier.

In other services, public sector jobs saw an increase of 84,000 jobs from a year ago while health and welfare and social services also added 68,000 jobs.

The manufacturing industry, thanks to continuing improvement in corporate performances, has seen new job increases for five consecutive months including 28,000 last month.

Self-employed entrepreneurs increased for the second consecutive month, as 43,000 people opened shops.

The job report also showed that overall unemployment eased with the rate dropping 0.2 percentage points to 3.2 percent.

However, youth unemployment continues to rise, up 0.1 percentage points from a year ago to 8.6 percent.

Moon laid out a plan last month to create 810,000 jobs in the public sector in the next five years, which he hopes will also encourage the private sector to hire more. Some young people have quit jobs at companies to apply for openings in the public sector, which is known for job security.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon met with self-employed entrepreneurs including restaurant and cafe owners in Yongin, Gyeonggi, and said the government will work on a subsidy program for small businesses to compensate for higher labor costs resulting from the minimum wage hike next year.

“The reason we announced the subsidy measures on Nov. 9 was that small businesses can be prepared ahead of the National Assembly approving the budget,” Kim said.

“The minimum wage for next year has been raised 16.4 percent in order to resolve the polarizing income gap and help those struggling to live on minimum wage,” the finance minister said. “But after much thought we decided on the job stability measures as it seems the burden to small merchants and SMEs was likely to increase.”

He said the government will continue to work on raising the competitiveness of small merchants and businesses.

Earlier this month, the government announced it would earmark 2.97 trillion won ($2.69 billion) to subsidize new hires at businesses with fewer than 30 employees and revenues of less than 500 million won a year. But that has caused controversy.

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

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