New jobs in May exceed 600,000 again
Total employment grew by 619,000 jobs in May, a 2.3 percent increase compared to a year earlier and the third consecutive month of gains.
The number of people working in Korea reached 27.6 million last month, according to Statistics Korea Wednesday, and it was the second month in a row in which gains exceeded 600,000 compared to a year earlier.
The gains were seen as a signal of a solid economic recovery, Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said.
“As the jobs recovery is becoming certain, [jobs] have recovered to more than 80 percent of the level before Covid-19,” Hong said.
Statistics Korea acknowledged that the base effect had an impact on the latest job report, meaning that figures a year ago were so low that this year's performance looks good.
“It is true that the sharp decline in employment due to Covid-19 last year affected the latest job results,” said Chung Dong-myung, head of social statistics at Statistics Korea. “However, when comparing stats on a month-on-month basis, which doesn’t include the base effect, employment has been increasing for four consecutive months, which we consider significant.”
The unemployment rate fell to 4 percent from 4.5 percent in May 2020, way down from January’s 5.4 percent, which was a 21-year high.
The total number of unemployed in May declined 10 percent to 1.15 million, the biggest drop since February 2020.
By category, jobs in health and social welfare, which are heavily funded by the government, continued to be a major driver. Last month, 241,000 more were employed in this category compared to the year-earlier period, which was a 10 percent increase.
Manufacturing, which employs 16 percent of all of those with jobs, added 19,000 positions compared to the year-earlier period, a 0.4 percent year-on-year.
Construction added 132,000 jobs, a 6.6 percent on-year increase as building activity comes back.
Jobs in restaurants and at hotels rose by 4,000 or 0.2 percent.
That was much smaller than April's 61,000 increase. Many related businesses continue to suffer from social distancing measures.
So did the wholesale and retail sector, the second biggest employer after manufacturing. It employs 12.3 percent of the nation's workforce. Compared to a year earlier, wholesale and retail lost 136,000 jobs, a 3.8 percent decline.
By age group, people in their 30s and 40s continued to lose the most jobs, while people 60 or older continued to get them thanks to government job programs.
There were 450,500 more jobs for the silver set in May, an 8.9 percent increase.
People in their 20s saw jobs spike by 109,000, or 3 percent, and people in their 50s saw 100,000 more jobs, up 1.5 percent
Some 69,000 jobs were lost by people in their 30s, down 1.3 percent, while people in their 40s lost 6,000, down 0.1 percent.
Statistics Korea emphasized that a decline in the number of Koreans in their 30s and 40s was reflected in the employment figures.
Others factor at play included more manufacturing jobs for young people, and a decline in wholesale and retail jobs, often filled by people in their 30s and 40s.
BY LEE HO-JEONG [firstname.lastname@example.org]