Published : 2013-03-13 09:14
Updated : 2013-03-13 10:38
South Korea's jobless rate jumped in February from a month earlier and job creation also slowed sharply, raising worries that labor market conditions will remain bleak down the road, a government report showed Wednesday.
According to the report by Statistics Korea, the jobless rate stood at 4 percent last month, up from the previous month's 3.4 percent. This is the highest ever since February last year when it was 4.2 percent.
The jobless rate adjusted for inflation also rose to 3.5 percent from January's 3.2 percent.
Job creation also slowed significantly. Around 201,000 jobs were created last month compared with a year earlier, down from 322,000 jobs in January, the report showed. This is the slowest creation of jobs since February 2010 when 125,000 were added to the economy.
"There is a tendency for the jobless rate to rise in February when graduates rush out to find work," an agency official said.
"The rate jumped last month as well, but this year's figure was not that significant compared with previous years."
The report showed that the wholesale and retail sector lost 69,000 jobs and the construction sector shed 95,000 jobs, leading the overall sluggish results. The health and social welfare service sector remained a driver of job creation by adding 134,000 positions, while the manufacturing sector created 79,000.
The number of people out of work jumped to 990,000 last month from the previous month's 847,000, the report showed. The figure does not count the so-called discouraged people who stop hunting for jobs.
Labor market conditions for young people still remained tough.
The unemployment rate for those aged 15-29 jumped to 9.1 percent from the previous month's 7.5 percent. This is the first time that the rate has surpassed 9 percent since March 2011, the report showed.
In particular, the number of employed people among those aged 20-29 shrank by about 159,000 from a year earlier, pointing to the challenges lying ahead for the age group, which mostly consists of college graduates.
The decline is also attributable in part to a reduction in available temporary and part-time jobs, reflecting unstable employment facing many young people, according to the agency.
The bleak job data comes as South Korea's economy is facing heightened uncertainty from worries that the protracted eurozone debt problems and global slowdown could dampen its growth by undercutting exports.
South Korea's government earlier revised down its growth outlook for this year from 4 percent to 3 percent. Experts worry that it could further slow to the 2-percent range given the current economic conditions at home and abroad.
The government of President Park Geun-hye is pushing to raise the country's employment rate above 70 percent by placing top priority on providing opportunities to work for as many people as possible.
The rate stood at 57.2 percent last month, which is the lowest since February 2011 when it was 57.1 percent, according to the report.
The finance ministry said in a report that things will likely improve in March as one-off seasonal factors restraining job creation will be relieved, but it will continue to keep an eye on the market, which is confronted with many lingering downside risks such as a possible reduction in new recruitment in the corporate sector. (Yonhap News)