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Korea’s employment rate reaches record 60.4 percent in March

April 10, 2019 - 15:19 By Sohn Ji-young

South Korea’s employment rate reached a record 60.4 percent in March, with the number of newly added hires rising by around 250,000 from the previous month, data from the state-run statistics agency showed Wednesday.

Statistics Korea said the number of employed people stood at 26.8 million in March, increasing by 250,000 from the same month last year. This builds on the improvement seen in February, when the employed population grew by 200,000 on-month.

This brings the employment rate -- the proportion of employed working-age adults -- for March to 60.4 percent, the highest figure for the month since the statistics agency began tracking such data in 1983.


Specifically, the March employment rate for young adults -- those aged between 15 and 29 -- came to 69.7 percent, the highest since 2017. The statistics bureau attributed this to increased hiring of workers in their late 20s.

By industry, the health and social welfare sector added 172,000 employees in March, while the science and technology service sector added 83,000 employees last month.

The lodging and food business sector also saw an increase of 24,000 employees, while the information and telecommunications sector brought in 55,000 new hires in March.

In contrast, the manufacturing sector, a major part of the Korean economy, lost 108,000 employees in March compared with the same month in 2018. The financial sector cut employment by 37,000 hires, while the property rental business lost 42,000 employees.

“With the number of employed people increasing by more than 200,000 people for two consecutive months, the employment rate is showing an overall sign of recovery,” Statistics Korea said in a statement, attributing the improvement to both a base effect and the government’s job creation measures.

Meanwhile, the March unemployment rate stood at 4.3 percent, down 0.2 percentage point from the same month in 2018. For young adults, the rate was 10.8 percent for the month, down 0.8 percentage point from March 2018.

The statistics agency attributed the decline to a change in the national service entrance exam schedule.The registration date was pushed from March to late March or early April, meaning that a portion of the unemployed population was not counted as jobless.

The expanded unemployment rate -- a measure that better captures the severity of youth unemployment -- for March was 12.6 percent, up 0.4 percentage points from the same month in 2018.

The expanded unemployment rate is adjusted to include two groups of people excluded from the conventional unemployment rate -- the time-related underemployed and the potential labor force.

The time-related underemployed population refers to people who are able and willing to work but have been able to find only part-time jobs. The potential labor force refers to those who are able and willing to work, regardless of their job-seeking status.

By Sohn Ji-young (