Unemployment hits record high in May

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Unemployment hits record high in May

By Park Hyong-ki

The number of people who have lost or can't find jobs reached 1.15 million in May, according to Statistics Korea, Wednesday.

The monthly figure was the lowest for May since 2000. Also, the number of unemployed people has remained above 1 million since January this year.

The unemployment rate has also remained at 4 percent for five consecutive months, the longest period since 2000 in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis.

Youth unemployment stood at 9.9 percent in May, down 0.6 percentage points from a year ago.

But the "real" youth unemployment rate after taking into account those who are studying for corporate entrance exams and working part-time stood at 24.2 percent, up 1 percentage point.

This is because of ongoing job cuts in the private sector led by manufacturing, analysts say.

"Many young people still feel the job market remains in the doldrums because for them getting a job means working at private companies," said Sung Tae-yoon, an economist at Yonsei University.

About 73,000 people lost manufacturing jobs last month.

The reasons for continuous job losses in manufacturing include slow innovation, the government's top-down policy approach and increasing labor costs following rapid minimum wage hikes, according to analysts.

There seems to be a discrepancy between the way the market and the administration perceive the job situation, they said.

Cheong Wa Dae recently posted on social media that the job market has been at "its best" since the 2003-08 Roh Moo-hyun administration, and that it will continue to create quality jobs.

"Politically speaking, if the government admits the economy or the job market is not in good shape, it would mean it is accepting defeat and will lose votes in the general election next year," said an analyst, who asked not to be named.

The country did see 259,000 jobs created last month compared to a year ago.

But most of the new jobs were led by the elderly via a state program launched early this year. This means the administration is still leading in job creation, not the private sector.

The employment rate for those in their 40s dropped 0.7 percentage points to 78.5 percent in May, while that of thirtysomethings remained the same as last year at 76 percent.

The combined employment for the 30s and 40s age group has been falling for 20 straight months. The fortysomething group, in this case, is trying to re-enter the job market after losing jobs mostly in manufacturing.

Meanwhile, the rate for those in their 60s increased 1.1 percentage points to 42.8 percent, and that of the elderly jumped 1.3 percentage points to 34.4 percent.



By Park Hyong-ki

The number of people who have lost or can't find jobs reached 1.15 million in May, according to Statistics Korea, Wednesday.

The monthly figure was the lowest for May since 2000. Also, the number of unemployed people has remained above 1 million since January this year.

The unemployment rate has also remained at 4 percent for five consecutive months, the longest period since 2000 in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis.

Youth unemployment stood at 9.9 percent in May, down 0.6 percentage points from a year ago.

But the "real" youth unemployment rate after taking into account those who are studying for corporate entrance exams and working part-time stood at 24.2 percent, up 1 percentage point.

This is because of ongoing job cuts in the private sector led by manufacturing, analysts say.

"Many young people still feel the job market remains in the doldrums because for them getting a job means working at private companies," said Sung Tae-yoon, an economist at Yonsei University.

About 73,000 people lost manufacturing jobs last month.

The reasons for continuous job losses in manufacturing include slow innovation, the government's top-down policy approach and increasing labor costs following rapid minimum wage hikes, according to analysts.

There seems to be a discrepancy between the way the market and the administration perceive the job situation, they said.

Cheong Wa Dae recently posted on social media that the job market has been at "its best" since the 2003-08 Roh Moo-hyun administration, and that it will continue to create quality jobs.

"Politically speaking, if the government admits the economy or the job market is not in good shape, it would mean it is accepting defeat and will lose votes in the general election next year," said an analyst, who asked not to be named.

The country did see 259,000 jobs created last month compared to a year ago.

But most of the new jobs were led by the elderly via a state program launched early this year. This means the administration is still leading in job creation, not the private sector.

The employment rate for those in their 40s dropped 0.7 percentage points to 78.5 percent in May, while that of thirtysomethings remained the same as last year at 76 percent.

The combined employment for the 30s and 40s age group has been falling for 20 straight months. The fortysomething group, in this case, is trying to re-enter the job market after losing jobs mostly in manufacturing.

Meanwhile, the rate for those in their 60s increased 1.1 percentage points to 42.8 percent, and that of the elderly jumped 1.3 percentage points to 34.4 percent.



Park Hyong-ki hyongki@koreatimes.co.kr


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