SEOUL—South Korea’s August unemployment rate fell to its lowest on record, suggesting the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic was on track, although a breakdown of data showed labor conditions remained weak in the key manufacturing sector.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 2.8 percent in August, data from Statistics Korea showed on Wednesday, the lowest and third straight month of declines since data releases began in June 1999. In July, the rate was 3.3 percent.
After 542,000 jobs were added in July, the number of people employed increased by 518,000 compared to a year earlier.
The data showed that jobs were mostly added in healthcare and social services, construction, and transportation and warehousing.
However, labor conditions remained weak in the key manufacturing sector, with the number of employed people falling to an eight-year low of 4,289,000–76,000, lower than the comparable month in 2020.
“By extension, there were fewer jobs in auto and trailer manufacturers, while there was a decline in jobs in textile product manufacturers. Job growth in electronics-related manufacturers also turned negative,” a statistics bureau official told reporters.
Jobs at retailers also continued to decline, with 113,000 jobs lost compared to a year earlier, and 38,000 fewer jobs in housing facilities and restaurants.
Lee Seung-suk, a research fellow at the Korea Economic Research Institute, said, “The decline in the unemployment rate is certainly a good phenomenon … .
Lee said the loss of jobs in the core manufacturing sector and for workers in their 30s, 40s and 50s was a concern as government-led public, healthcare and social service sector jobs made gains.
People working less than 36 hours per week, mostly in lower paying and less desirable roles, jumped 64.5 percent from a year ago, while those working longer hours actually declined by 17.1 percent.
Employment prospects for young South Koreans remain a matter of concern.
The unemployment rate for people aged 15 to 29 was 5.8 percent in August, but the real rate, known as the ‘extended unemployment rate’ – which combines the unemployed with part-time and temporary job holders, and those who have Those who have given up their search or are preparing for state examinations – were 21.7 percent.
Workplaces may face further pressure as South Korea grapples with its worst wave of COVID-19 infections, spread by the more permeable Delta variant.
The country has extended social distancing until at least 3 October as the country promotes vaccination ahead of the Chsok holiday, also known as Korean Thanksgiving Day, next week.
The nation has recorded a total of 275,910 infections since the pandemic began, with 2,367 deaths. Only 40 percent of the 52 million population are fully vaccinated
The Bank of Korea currently forecasts the annual unemployment rate to be 3.9 percent for this year and 3.8 percent for the next.
by Jury Roho
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times