Korean working-age employment hits record high

Korean working-age employment hits record high

Korean working-age employment hits record highDespite growth slowing to a 39-month low, the employment rate of Korea’s working-age population hit an all-time high of 70% in May.
Because of the nation’s declining population, the number of employed young people has continued to decline, while the number of employed senior workers has increased.

According to Statistics Korea on Wednesday, the working-age employment population between the ages of 15 and 64, which is a standard for statistical comparison set by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, increased by 0.1 percentage points from a year earlier to reach a record 70 percent in May.

The overall employed population is now 28.91 million, the slowest growth rate since February 2021, despite an increase in employment of just 80,000 over the same period last year.

The employment rate for people who are 15 years of age and over was 63.5 percent, which remained constant from the same time previous year.
Nonetheless, the 15–29 age group’s employment rate decreased by 0.7% annually to 46.9%.

All age groups saw an increase in the economically active population’s unemployment rate, which increased by 0.3 percentage points to 3 percent. Among the younger generation, the growth was very sharp, increasing by 0.9 percentage points to 6.7%.

The younger age group saw the biggest annual decline in the number of employed persons, with a 173,000 annual decline. In addition, there was a notable 114,000 decline in the 40s, while there was a notable 265,000 growth in the 60+ age group.


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Head of Statistics Korea’s social statistics section Seo Woon-joo stated, “The number of employees among the younger generation has been on a steady downtrend, mainly affected by the shrinking population,” at a news event held at the Sejong government complex.

Industry-wise, the hospitality and food service sector hired 80,000 new workers, up 3.5 percent, and the social and health services sector hired 94,000 new workers, up 3.2 percent. The construction industry lost 47,000 jobs, or 2.2 percent, and retail and wholesale lost 73,000 employment.

Figures Korea ascribed the modest growth to the number of national holidays in May as well as the base effect of the large increase in employment that was caused by the decrease in COVID-19 last year.

Unfavorable weather patterns were another factor in the fall in employment in the agriculture industry.

“The employment rate of those aged between 15 and 64 reached 70 percent for the first time in May, but the decrease in hiring from the retail, wholesale and construction sectors led to slower growth in the number of employed [people] while vulnerable groups in the job market continued to struggle,” said Kim Byoung-hwan, the first vice minister of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, during a job market monitoring meeting held Wednesday.

The vice minister added that “the improving domestic demand indicators, including exports, card spending, and the number of foreign tourists, will work in favor of employment” in June, but added that the factors that led to the deceleration were mainly transient.

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