Korea's youth unemployment in slump despite global recovery
Published : Jan 14, 2018 - 10:14
Updated : Jan 14, 2018 - 10:14

South Korea's unemployment among the youth remained high with no signs of recovery last year, data showed Sunday, despite solid improvements in the job markets of other advanced economies.

According to the data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the country's unemployment among those aged from 15 to 24 came to 10.2 percent for the July-September of 2017, marking the third consecutive quarter that the figure hovered above the 10-percent mark.

The unemployment among young people has been increasing in South Korea since the third quarter of 2012, when the figure stood at 9 percent.

Compared to Asia's fourth-largest economy, other members of the Paris-based organization reported sharp gains in employment among youths following signs of economic recovery.

Speaking on youth unemployment and the difficulties small and medium-sized businesses face in hiring and retaining new employees, Gyeonggi Governor Nam Gyeong Pil unveiled a number of policy proposals that would seek to resolve both issues. (Yonhap)

The average unemployment rate of the youth among OECD members came to 12.1 percent in the second quarter of 2017, down from 16.2 percent tallied in 2012.

While South Korea's third-quarter unemployment rate of 10.2 percent may seem lower than the average of the OECD, standing 10th place among its 35 members, experts said the situation is worrisome as other countries have been showing improvement over the cited period.

The United States, Japan, Germany, and France saw their unemployment rate of youth reach 7.9 percent, 16.2 percent, 8.2 percent, and 23.8 percent, respectively, in the second quarter of 2012, but the numbers dropped to 4.9 percent, 9 percent, 6.4 percent, and 22.5 percent for the same period in 2017.

South Korea's overall unemployment also posted a sharp growth compared to other members. Its third-quarter unemployment came to 3.7 percent in the third quarter of 2017, rising 0.6 percentage point from five years earlier.

The growth also marked the fourth steepest growth pace.

Experts said South Korea's job market deteriorated despite its economic growth as it depended heavily on the semiconductor industry, which tends to generate fewer jobs.

The Korea International Trade Association's estimate shows the chip segment's exports generated 110,000 additional jobs in 2016, while that of the automobile sector reported 230,000.

The latest labor policies rolled out by the Moon Jae-in administration also is seen as putting a burden on job sector recovery, experts added.

"The labor market's inflexibility has a direct relationship with the youth's unemployment," said Sung Tae-yoon, a professor of economics at Yonsei University.

Starting this year, South Korea's minimum hourly wage was raised to 7,530 won ($7) from last year's 6,470 won. While Moon suggested that the change will improve the living quality of the people, there has been a criticism that such a sharp increase will hinder employers from hiring more workers.

The government's aim to give temporary workers at public organizations full-time and regular employee status is also emerging as a hurdle in the job market. (Yonhap)