November 15, 2018 12:57
Unemployment has soared to the highest level in 13 years while job growth has fallen below 100,000 for four straight months.
The government has been pumping in taxpayers' money to create temporary jobs, but employment figures remain dismal, prompting fears Korea has entered a full-fledged economic slump.
Statistics Korea said Wednesday that jobs increased by 64,000 last month, with 27 million people employed. The figure marks an increase over July's 5,000 and August's 3,000 jobs created but pales in comparison to the 281,000 jobs created in October last year.
What is worrying is that some 290,000 jobs were lost in the retail, restaurant and lodging industries, which are mostly breadline minimum-wage positions.
Government efforts to create short-term jobs to improve job figures ended up having only a minimal effect.
The number of jobs available for people in their 40s, who are the backbone of the economically active population, is declining rapidly. Some 85,000 jobs for people in their 40s disappeared in the first quarter of this year, followed by a decline of 101,000 in the second quarter and 143,000 in the third. In October alone, 153,000 jobs for people in their 40s were lost.
Workers in that age group are also excluded from public-sector jobs because new positions for public servants or internships are mainly targeted at people in their 20s and 30s or senior citizens.
Economists fear the job shortage will grow more acute next year. Shin Se-don, at Sookmyung Women's University said, "Next year, the minimum wage will rise 10.9 percent, while the U.S. interest rate hike and U.S.-China trade dispute will exacerbate global economic conditions, resulting in a strong possibility of the number of jobs shrinking."
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