Manufacturing job losses on decline for 13 months
By Lee Kyung-min
Over 1.24 million people remained jobless in April, the highest in 19 years, a clear indication of the tightening job market amid an economic slowdown here, government data showed Wednesday.
Statistics Korea said the number of jobless stood at 1,245,000, up 84,000 from a year earlier and the highest number since June 1999 when the agency began compiling related data.
The jobless rate also jumped to 4.4 percent in April, up 0.3 percentage points year-on-year, the highest since 2000 when it stood at 4.5 percent.
The rate for those aged between 15 and 29 reached 11.5 percent, up 0.8 percentage points from a year earlier, also the highest since April 2000.
The number of employed people was 27.03 million in April, up 171,000 year-on-year.
By age, 335,000 jobs were added for those in their 60s, while 65,000 were obtained by those in their 50s.
People in their 20s saw 21,000 new jobs.
By contrast, 90,000 people in their 30s and 187,000 people in their 40s lost their jobs.
Among the self-employed, 28,000 joined their ranks, while 70,000 people with employees went out of business.
By industry, the manufacturing sector accounted for 124,000 job losses in April, 52,000 more than the previous month.
Some 127,000 jobs were added in the health and social welfare sectors due to expanded state-run healthcare.
The figures indicate the government is ignoring the people struggling to make ends meet, according to Yun Chang-hyun, a business professor at the University of Seoul.
"Of the total, the figures that stand out most is that 90,000 people in their 30s and 187,000 people in their 40s, the bread winners of families, are unemployed," he said.
"They are supposed to support their families; and such a large number of people losing jobs means a far greater number are suffering."
The self-employed people with employees losing jobs are mostly due to the rapid minimum wage hikes and shorter workweek, key economic policies of Moon Jae-in administration, he stressed.
"Many owners of small enterprises judge that they cannot simply make ends meet by following the state-set guidelines on increased labor costs," he said.
The recent rise in the number of people defaulting on loans is in line with the figures.
"Assuming that they had taken out loans to finance their businesses or to simply sustain their livelihoods, this means a substantial amount of loans are problematic," he said.
In his view, the agriculture and fisheries jobs that saw increases were mostly held by senior citizens left with few options to earn a living after retirement.
"Those people are practically being forced to move to rural areas and therefore are considered de facto jobless," he said.