Unemployment Hits Fresh Record in April

  • By Kim Sung-mo

    May 16, 2019 11:07

    The number of employed people grew by just 170,000 last month, slowing from a deceptive increase of 250,000 over the previous two months.

    President Moon Jae-in said in a TV interview last week that he expects job growth to reach 200,000 a month this year, up from an earlier projection of 150,000. But it has fallen below the 200,000 mark less than a week after Moon made the comments.

    Statistics Korea said Wednesday that 27.04 million people were employed last month, up 171,000 compared to the same period a year ago. In February the number grew by 263,000 and in March by 250,000 as the government spent taxpayers' money on creating temporary menial jobs for the elderly.

    Young people queue up at a career fair in Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul on May 9. /Yonhap

    A closer look at the April job figures shows both a qualitative and quantitative deterioration. Manufacturing jobs dwindled by 52,000, down for the 13th month running, while the number of employed people in their 30s declined by 90,000 and the number in their 40s plummeted 187,000.

    Employment of people in their 40s has been falling for 42 consecutive months.

    Meanwhile, unemployment soared to a new record of 1.25 million or 4.4 percent, the highest for the month in 19 years. Unemployment among people aged 15 to 29 soared to 11.5 percent, the highest since 2000.

    And the quality of jobs where there was some growth was mediocre. Part-time jobs entailing less than 17 hours of work a week grew by 362,000 last month, the highest since 1982. Also, the number of people who simply gave up searching for work soared above the 2 million mark for the first time ever.

    The average increase in employment in the first four months of this year stood at 176,000. During the Park Geun-hye administration, it was 366,000. To meet Moon's target, the number of employed people needs to increase by 212,000 a month, according to Statistics Korea.

    Yet unfazed by the dismal figures, Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki on Wednesday patted himself on the back by saying job growth surpassed the government's earlier target of 150,000 for three straight months.

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