S. Korea adds fewest number of jobs in over 3 years in May

June 12, 2024

South Korea reported the slowest on-year job growth in more than three years in May and the unemployment rate among young people reported a marked growth, data showed Wednesday.

The number of employed people came to 28.92 million last month, up 80,000 from a year earlier, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.

It marked the fewest on-year job additions since February 2021, when the country shed 473,000 positions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April, the country had 261,000 new jobs, after adding 173,000 new positions a month earlier. In January and February, the monthly job additions surpassed the 300,000 level.

“The sharp decline in the number of new jobs came as the Buddha’s birthday holiday was included in the survey period for the data in May,” an agency official said.

A jobseeker checks job postings at a job fair in Seoul, in this file photo taken May 31, 2024. (Yonhap)
A jobseeker checks job postings at a job fair in Seoul, in this file photo taken May 31, 2024. (Yonhap)

The decline also came as the number of jobs for those aged 15-29 dropped by 173,000, the largest fall since January 2021 when the country lost 314,000 jobs for young people.

The unemployment rate for the age group came to 6.7 percent by going up 0.9 percentage point, or the largest increase since February 2021.

People in their 40s also had 114,000 fewer positions last month.

But jobs for those aged 60 and older rose by 265,000 on-year, and those for those in their 30s and 50s grew 74,000 and 27,000, respectively, in May.

“The higher youth unemployment rate was due mainly to demographic changes and the increasing number of jobseekers among young people,” the official said.

By sector, the manufacturing sector had 38,000 more jobs, extending the winning streak for the sixth month, on rising exports.

The accommodation and dining sector also had 80,000 new positions in May, the third straight monthly gain.

But the wholesale and retail field lost 73,000 positions last month, and 47,000 jobs were lost from the construction sector.

The employment rate of people aged 15-64 increased 0.1 percentage point on-year to 70 percent in May, which marked the highest level for any May since 1989 when the agency began compiling relevant data.

The number of unemployed rose 97,000 to 884,000 in May and the jobless rate rose 0.3 percentage point to 3 percent, the data showed.

“The term unemployment people here means that those who don’t have a job but have sought one. We’ve seen a growing number of people trying to land a job after the pandemic,” the official noted.