Jobless rate falls to 4.1% in April, job creation remains sluggish

By Yonhap
  • Published : May 16, 2018 - 09:38
  • Updated : May 16, 2018 - 13:44

South Korea's jobless rate fell slightly in April due to a rise in employment in the health care, financial service and public service sectors, but job creation still remained weak, government data showed Wednesday.

The unemployment rate stood at 4.1 percent last month, down 0.1 percentage point from a year earlier, according to the report compiled by Statistics Korea.

The number of employed people reached 26.86 million in April, up 123,000 from a year earlier, according to the data.

The unemployment rate for young adults -- those aged between 15 and 29 -- was 10.7 percent, down 0.5 percentage point from a year earlier.

Visitors at an employment consulting center for young adults in Jung-gu, Seoul, on June 15. (Yonhap)

The employment rate stood at 66.6 percent in April, unchanged from a year earlier, with the corresponding figure for young people at 42 percent, down 0.1 percentage point over the cited period.

The number of newly added jobs marks the third straight month that the figure has stayed slightly above the 100,000 mark. The comparable figures for February and March were 104,000 and 112,000, the data showed.

"The number of newly added jobs in the manufacturing sector declined, and there were some 420,000 job creations in April of last year, which affected this year's number," an official at the agency said.

The number of workers employed in the manufacturing segment declined 68,000 in April, with that for the retail sector shedding 61,000.

"Job cuts in shipping and other segments affected by restructuring have contributed to the decline, and overall business conditions have not been good in the past two or three months," the official said.

In March, the government proposed a 3.9 trillion-won ($3.69 billion) extra budget largely to create new jobs for young people, amid deepening concerns about high unemployment, which the government warned would have catastrophic consequences.

The government hopes that with the pledged support, the nation's youth unemployment could fall below 8 percent by 2021 and upwards of 220,000 jobs could be newly added through 2021.

Seoul's push comes as President Moon Jae-in has called for all-out efforts to create new quality jobs for young people and warned that the high jobless numbers among young adults is a national disaster.

The proposed extra budget is the second of its kind under the incumbent administration. Last year, the government got parliament to approve an 11 trillion-won supplementary budget that focused on creating more quality jobs.

Experts say the government's job creation may miss this year's target of 320,000. Earlier, the Bank of Korea lowered its estimate for job creation to 260,000 from its earlier projection of 300,000.

"In addition to the minimum wage hike, a slump in the manufacturing sector contributed to less than expected job creation in April," Ju Won, an economist at Hyundai Research Institute, said. "The current slump in the pace of job creation may continue down the road given various conditions."

The economist said the annual job creation may even hover below 200,000 for this year.

Under the catchphrase of an income-led economic expansion and a reduction of the pay gap between workers, the Moon Jae-in government increased the minimum wage for all workers by 16.4 percent this year to 7,530 won from 6,470 in 2017.

The government is determined to further raise the minimum wage in Asia's fourth-largest economy to at least 10,000 won by 2020 on the belief that it is time to break the economy away from an export-dependent growth path. (Yonhap)