April 12, 2018 12:42
Unemployment has risen to the highest level in 17 years even though the Moon Jae-in administration made job creation a top priority.
Statistics Korea on Wednesday said the jobless rate stood at 4.5 percent last month, the highest for March in 17 years, with 1.26 million people unemployed, up 120,000 from a year ago.
The number of employed people increased by only 112,000 on-year, compared to a typical 300,000 since 2000 except during the global financial crisis.
Moon last month asked the National Assembly to approve a W4 trillion supplementary budget aimed at creating jobs for young people (US$1=W1,068).
But youth unemployment actually worsened to 11.6 percent, reaching double digits for the first time this year. The real youth unemployment rate, which includes those who work part-time or prepare for public service exams, reached 24 percent.
The Ministry of Strategy and Finance claimed the unemployment figures look worse than they really are because the comparison is year-on-year and the rate was very low in March 2017.
But some economists say there really are fewer jobs available as businesses are cutting back on new hires due to the minimum wage hike. One said, "The number of temporary jobs has decreased sharply since February, which can only be the result of the minimum wage hike."
A professor at one private university in Seoul said, "The economy is not bad, so the dire employment figures cannot be due to any other causes."
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