The country’s unemployment rate stood at 4.5 percent in January, up 0.8 percentage point from a year earlier, reflecting the hiring slump in the manufacturing sector, according to figures released by Statistics Korea.
This was the highest number observed for the month of January since 2010, when the corresponding index went as high as 5 percent.
Also, the actual number of unemployed people was 1.2 million, marking the highest January figure since 2000.
The number of newly employed people stood at 26.2 million, up 19,000 from a year earlier and marking the lowest on-month increase in five months. The government’s target for this year is to create 150,000 new jobs, public and private combined.
The unemployment rate for young adults -- aged between 15 and 29 -- stood at 8.9 percent, up 0.2 percentage point from the previous year.
“There was some base effect from January last year, when the on-month job increase rate temporarily soared,” said an official of the statistics office.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki expressed concerns about slowing momentum in job growth.
“(The government) will place all priority on improving the employment situation, and mobilize all policy measures possible in order to achieve the target of 150,000 new jobs within the year,” the fiscal policymaker said during an economic revitalization meeting at the Seoul Government Complex.
Hong also vowed 2,000 new jobs in the public sector, in addition to the 23,000 new jobs that the government has planned to create this year.
“In particular, we will expand human resources in the public facility safety management and disaster prevention sectors, seeking to come up with a hiring plan by next month,” he said.
Marking the steepest fall was the manufacturing sector, which lost 170,000 jobs in January compared to a year earlier, reflecting the slowdown of the semiconductor industry and recent moves for corporate restructuring. Retail and wholesale also shed 67,000 positions during the same period.
Meanwhile, the health and social welfare sectors gained 179,000 new jobs, and the ICT sector marked an on-month rise of 94,000 jobs.
By Bae Hyun-jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)