People in their late 20s who should be infusing fresh blood into business are finding it increasingly tougher to land jobs. According to the latest job figures announced by Statistics Korea on Wednesday, the number of economically inactive Koreans between 25 and 29 stood at 910,000 last month, up a whopping 30 percent or 210,000 from the same period a year ago.
It was the largest increase since October 2009, when the number increased by 300,000.
Some 27 percent of people in their late 20s were economically inactive, the highest level since December of 2010. And their employment rate stood at 68.6 percent, the lowest since March 2011.
The economically inactive are people who have no prospects of working and usually consist of students and housewives. The reason the economically inactive population surged even though it is not the start of the academic school year here is because business have cut back on new hires and part-time jobs have also dwindled, causing many young Koreans to simply give up looking for work.
A survey by job portal Job Korea of the nation's top 500 businesses showed that heavy industry firms plan on cutting back on new hires by 12 percent compared to last year, while carmakers and electrical and electronics firms plan to decrease new hires by 9 percent and 0.1 percent.
Statistics Korea classifies a person as being employed if they work at least one hour a week, so people with part-time jobs are also considered employed. But even part-time work is hard to find due to the protracted recession.
According to Statistics Korea, the number of part-time jobs has shrunk by around 200,000 so far this year compared to 2011.