World Economy

South Korea Youth Giving Up Job Search

The jobless rate for young people has reached 9.2%.
The jobless rate for young people has reached 9.2%.

A record number of South Korean youth have given up on looking for a job, according to Statistics Korea. Last month, 1.72 million South Koreans didn’t seek employment, the highest number seen for the month of November. The number also marked an increase of 219,000 from the same month last year.

Among the demographic, there was a notable increase in the number of young people in their twenties. Those who gave up on the job hunt came to 284,000, up by nearly 20% on year, Yonhap reported.

“This reflects the overall employment situation for young people which isn’t very good,” an official at Statisics Korea said. The number of unemployed youth between the ages of 15 and 29 grew by 46,000 in November, driving up the jobless rate for young people by a percentage point on year to 9.2%.

It seems fewer jobs were available, as the number of young people who found jobs last month was 39,000 less than the previous year, JoongAng Ilbo reported.

The real jobless rate which includes those with the potential to seek a job and those with unsteady employment conditions reached 21.4%.

The employment status board in President Moon Jae-in’s Cheong Wa Dae office shows how eager he is to create jobs. So the November employment report might be all the more disappointing for Moon, who vowed to be the “jobs president”.

According to Statistics Korea, the number of the employed totaled 26.84 million last month, up 253,000, or 1%, from a year earlier. In October, too, the job growth remained at 279,000 against the same month last year. The year-to-year increase in jobs failed to reach the government’s target of 300,000 for two months in a row since Moon took office.

The country’s jobless rate stood at 3.2% last month, up 0.1 percentage points from a year ago. Officials cited seasonal factors, saying the construction sector hired fewer temporary workers because of the cold wave that came earlier than usual. It seems to be more than just weather, however.

It may be too early after just six months to conclude the new government’s job creation policy has failed. Also, the job market is always a lagging indicator, which means observers will have to wait to know for sure.

Conservative critics point to what they call the Moon administration’s anti-business and pro-labor economic policy. More specifically, they cite the recent hike in the minimum wage, shortened working hours, and the government’s call for businesses to turn more temps into permanent employees.

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints