More and More Koreans Give up Looking for Jobs

  • By Choi Kyu-min

    May 18, 2019 08:26

    A growing number of people have given up looking for work altogether as the job market hits new troughs every month. The biggest increase occurred among 20-somethings.

    People who are not employed and are not looking for work are classified as "economically inactive" and conveniently drop out of the employment statistics. The number of people in this category stood at 16.2 million as of April, up 0.4 percent compared to the same period last year.

    What is especially worrying is the fact that 1.97 million economically inactive people had simply given up looking for jobs without typical reasons like childcare, studying and retirement, up more than 12 percent on-year and the highest since statistics began in 2003.

    The biggest increase was among people in their 20s, up a whopping 18 percent from 268,000 to 316,000 over the past year.

    But the number who became economically inactive due to childcare fell by 99,000 to 6.98 million, and the number who stopped working or looking for work to study dropped by 9,000 to 151,000.

    The problem is that the number of those who became economically inactive for no particular reason has risen for 24 months in a row, showing a steady trend rather than a blip.

    On an annual basis, their number grew from 1.63 million in 2016 to 1.74 million in 2017 and to 2.07 million in the first four months of this year. It is expected to exceed 2 million this year.

    People who were willing to work but gave up searching for jobs due to a lack of opportunities numbered 487,000 last month, up 6.3 percent compared to a year ago and also the highest figure for April on record.

    Their number rose above 600,000 for the first time ever in January.

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