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Quarter of young S. Koreans virtually jobless: report

All Headlines 17:30 July 28, 2010

SEOUL, July 28 (Yonhap) -- Nearly one out of every four young people in South Korea is currently unemployed in real terms mainly due to a structural gap between education level and quality jobs available, a report said Wednesday.

The real unemployment rate among those aged 15-29 reached 23 percent in the first half of the year, more than a three-fold increase compared with the official jobless rate of 8.6 percent, according to the report by Samsung Economic Research Institute, a think tank affiliated with top local conglomerate Samsung Group.

The real jobless rate categorizes people who work fewer than 36 hours per week and those who do not have jobs as unemployed.

The high youth unemployment was attributed to the country's structural problems rather than the economic downturn, according to the report.

"At the heart of the problem lies the mismatch between the reality of the job market and expectations of highly educated young people," said Sohn Min-jung, the author of the report.

While over 80 percent of high school graduates went on to college last year, up from 33.2 percent in 1990, the rate of young people who joined large-sized companies declined to 12.6 percent last year from 18.4 percent in 2004, he pointed out.

"In light of this, reform measures for the distorted education system are required, together with efforts for college restructuring to raise future workers who can meet the labor market's needs," Sohn added.

The nagging unemployment problem bears significance both to individual job seekers and society, as it is feared to hamper the country's growth potential and create social unrest, the report pointed out.

Based on last year's number, the average amount of money an unemployed person lost was 25.5 million won (US$21,190) per year, leading to a decrease in the government's tax revenue, the report said.

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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