South Korea’s unemployment inches down in September
South Korea’s unemployment rate fell in September, recovering from an eight-year high in August, as increased fiscal spending in the healthcare sector boosted jobs even as manufacturers and retailers shed workers.
The unemployment rate fell to 4% in September from 4.2% in seasonally adjusted terms as the number of employed rose by 45,000 people from a year earlier, marking the biggest increase since June, a Statistics Korea report showed yesterday.
Analysts surveyed by Reuters expected unemployment would be in a range of 3.7% to 4.2%, with many forecasting a slow recovery in the job market due to ongoing restructuring in the manufacturing sector as well as President Moon Jae-in’s controversial policies to sharply raise minimum wages.
The healthcare and social services sector saw jobs increasing by 133,000 in September from a year earlier, thanks to “the government’s efforts to improve healthcare and add social workers in the sector,” a Statistics Korea official said after the data was published.
The number of people with jobs increased by 137,000 in September from a year earlier, the report showed.
“We’re seeing the data bottoming out, although we need to wait and see if the upturn (in job growth) will hold up,” said Park Sang-hyun, an economist at Leading Investment & Securities in Seoul.
“It won’t be easy to see fast job growth from the manufacturing sector as corporate investment isn’t strong.”
Yesterday’s report showed manufacturers shed 42,000 jobs from a year earlier, while retailers cut another 100,000 jobs after similar declines in August.
The nation’s finance ministry in a separate report said the job market is “still in grave situation,” as manufacturing, and tourism sectors are still shedding jobs.
President Moon’s support rating dropped to 49% in early September, a weekly Gallup Korea survey showed, the lowest since he took office in May 2017 as the worst unemployment figures since the global financial crisis sparked a strong public backlash.