For a long time now, South Korea has been suffering from employment issues. The country employment market is more often than not dominated by the large corporations and conglomerates. SMEs are usually seen as the second-pick option, thus receiving less support from the government as well as being the less appealing choice for jobseekers.

Unfortunately, large corporations can only create so many jobs, resulting in insufficient jobs and huge levels of unemployment, especially among the younger workers. Add to this the aging population of South Korea, the country’s employment market is in dire straits.

Fortunately, the government has been implementing initiatives to boost job creation and employment over the years. These efforts seem to be paying off as employment grew more than 300,000 for two straight months to September, statistical office data shows.

The number of those employed totaled 27,404,000 in September, up 348,000 from a year ago, according to Statistics Korea. It came after increasing 452,000 in the previous month.

The employment growth came as the government unveiled a series of projects to create jobs especially among the older generation. Being one of the fastest aging societies in the world, the government saw the urgent need to provide part-time jobs for the elderly who either did not fully prepare for their post-retirement life, or suffered from mismanaged or inadequate pensions.

The number of regular workers expanded 541,000 in the month, while those for irregular workers and daily workers reduced 10,000 and 113,000 respectively. As for those who are aged 60 or higher, employment expanded by about 380,00 in September from the previous year. Employment for those aged in their 50s and 20s grew by 119,000 and 64,000 respectively.

Jobs in the 30s and 40s declined 13,000 and 179,000 each last month amid the falling number of populations of those ages.

The hiring rate for those aged 15 or higher gained 0.3 percentage points over the year to 61.5 per cent last month, marking the highest September reading in 23 years since 1996.

The employment rate among those aged 15-29 rose 0.8 percentage points to 43.7 per cent, with the OECD-method hiring rate among those aged 15-64 adding 0.3 percentage points to 67.1 per cent in the month.

Unemployment rate in September was around 884,000; down 140,00 from 2018. This is also notably the lowest September figure for unemployment in four years since 2015.

Jobless rate declined to 3.1 per cent, 0.5 down from the earlier year; the lowest rating since 2014 in September. The so-called expanded jobless rate, which reflects labor market conditions more accurately, slumped 0.6 percentage points to 10.8 per cent in the month.

Overall, the valiant effort to curb joblessness and unemployment by the government is having some success. However, there are still plenty of problems that need to be addressed. Many, especially the younger workers, are still rather discouraged to look for work among increasing competitiveness.

Many have opted to take their time looking for jobs, while others are seeking jobs overseas. There are still many discouraged workers who have given up the job hunt entirely. Government efforts should continue to expand while taking these groups into consideration.


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