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(2nd LD) S. Korea's jobless rate falls, but new job numbers remain sluggish

All News 16:03 July 11, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with industry ministry's outlook in the last two paras)

SEJONG, July 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's jobless rate fell slightly in June due to a rise in employment in the health care, public service and financial sectors, but the number of newly created positions remained sluggish, government data showed Wednesday.

The unemployment rate stood at 3.7 percent last month, down 0.1 percentage point from a year earlier, according to the report compiled by Statistics Korea.

The number of employed people reached 27.12 million in June, up 106,000 from the same one-month period in 2017, according to the data.

The unemployment rate for young adults -- those aged between 15 and 29 -- was 9 percent, down 1.4 percentage points from the previous year.

The employment rate stood at 67 percent in June, unchanged from a year earlier, with the corresponding figure for young people at 42.9 percent, up 0.2 percentage point over the cited period.

The number of newly added jobs has stayed slightly above 100,000 per month over the past five months. The manufacturing sector shed 120,000 jobs last month, marking a decline for a third straight month. The education service sector also saw its employment drop to 107,000 last month.

"The number of fresh posts in the manufacturing and the educational service sectors lost ground in the wake of corporate restructuring, and the overall job offerings remained sluggish," an official at the agency said.

Since May, the government has been implementing a 3.9 trillion-won (US$3.69 billion) extra budget largely to create jobs for young people amid deepening concerns about high unemployment, which the government warned would have catastrophic consequences.

The government hopes that with the pledged support, youth unemployment could fall below 8 percent by 2021 and upwards of 220,000 jobs could be added annually through 2021.

Seoul's push comes as President Moon Jae-in has called for all-out efforts to create quality jobs for young people and warned that the high jobless numbers among young adults is a national disaster.

The extra budget is the second of its kind under the Moon administration. Last year, the government got parliament to approve an 11 trillion-won supplementary budget that focused on creating high quality jobs.

Jobseekers wait in line at a job fair organized by a district office in Seoul on March 29, 2018, in this file photo. (Yonhap)

In response to the tepid job market, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Wednesday held meetings with major industry associations to discuss ways to expand support for slumping sectors.

The ministry expected employment in the automotive, shipbuilding and textile industries to continue to suffer in the latter half of this year on sluggish global market demand. In contrast, the semiconductor, general machinery and petrochemical sectors are likely to recruit more workers later this year in line with a brisk outlook for exports, it noted.


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