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Jobless Rate Rises to 3% in 8 Months: Youth Unemployment Rate Hits 7.1 %

By Lee Chi-dong lcd@koreatimes.co.kr, The Korea Times, 16 January 2003 17:19

South Korea’s unemployment rate rose last month to 3 percent for the first time in eight months, due mainly to a growing number of the jobless youth.

The unemployment rate for youth aged 15-29 hit 7.1 percent, up from 6.3 percent in November.

According to the National Statistical Office (NSO), the jobless rate stood at 3 percent last December, up 0.3 of a percentage point from November.

For the three consecutive months since September, the unemployment rate has risen, it said.

Jobless numbers climbed to 664,000 in December, an increase of 49,000 from November, Shim won-bo, an NSO official, said.

He added the rise was attributable to the surging number of young jobseekers, especially high school and college students preparing for graduation.

The unemployment rate of those aged 15-29 jumped 0.8 of a percentage point to 7.1 percent in December from 6.3 percent in November.

Many young people are having trouble locating jobs, as companies are taking a wait and see attitude about recruiting new employees amid uncertain economic environments, Shim said.

Corporations are also cutting jobs in the face of tough competition, he added.

In Korea, as in many other countries, the unemployment of highly educated people has recently emerged as a serious economic and social problem.

The jobless rate of other age groups, on the other hand, recorded an insignificant increase of 0.1-0.4 of a percentage point month-on-month, with the exception of the 30s age-range, which recorded a 0.1 percentage point drop to 2.7 percent.

The number of jobless has, for more than a year, risen by 1,000 to 16,000, and 48.8 percent of the total unemployed people were out of work for under three months.

The Korea Labor Institute yesterday predicted that the nation’s jobless rate would stabilize at 2.9 percent this year, while young jobseekers will continue to experience hardship in finding jobs.