500,000 Young Koreans Give up Looking for Jobs

  • By Hwang Ji-yoon, Baik Su-jin

    March 21, 2023 11:15

    Close to half a million Koreans aged 15 to 29 have given up looking for work or doing anything else, the highest number on record.
    The government tallies such people as "taking time off" so they are not officially classified as unemployed.
    According to Statistics Korea on Monday, some 2.64 million people were classified as taking time off last month, and 19 percent of them or 497,000 were under 30.
    Only 3.85 million young people were employed, down by 125,000 from a year ago and the steepest decline since February 2021. That brought their employment rate to a paltry 45.5 percent last month, down 0.4 percentage point from a year ago.
    The surge in people who gave up looking for work last month surpassed even the previous spike of 495,000 in January 2021.
    Students walk across campus at a university in Seoul on Monday. /News1
    Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the number of young Koreans taking time off hovered between 200,000 to 300,000, but it rose to 438,000 in February of 2020, when the pandemic broke out and has hovered around 400,000 as the job market shrank.
    It fell in the middle of last year, when lockdown was lifted, but soon soared again.
    Some experts say available jobs simply do not appeal to young people. Sung Tae-yoon at Yonsei University said, "We can't say that young people who take time off have no desire to work. There are probably many cases where they give up because they can't find jobs that suit their expectations."
    In other words, more quality jobs need to be created to lure these people back into the labor market.
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