Three out of every 10 university students feel the job market has grown tougher over the past year.

In a survey of 5,272 university students and recent graduates conducted by the Korea Economic Research Institute, more than one third of respondents said they found it more difficult to find a job this year than last year. Only 9.1 percent said the job market has somewhat improved.

Compared to a similar survey last year, those with a positive outlook about the job market increased slightly.

About a quarter of respondents, or 25.8 percent, preferred to work for a state-run company, while 25.6 percent wanted to work for conglomerates, followed by midsize companies (11.1 percent) and foreign companies (6.6 percent).

Most jobseekers hoped to work for high-paying jobs at conglomerates last year, but in this year's survey they seemed to turn to more secure public companies. Jobseekers hoped to earn a starting salary of W34.15 million a year, down by W490,000 from last year (US$1=W1,133).

By gender, male jobseekers hoped to receive a starting salary of W35.24 million a year, while women wanted to earn W33.04 million. Female jobseekers who wanted to work for big conglomerates tended to expect more pay than those who applied to small and midsize companies.

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