By Lee Seung-yoon
The growth in the number of new hires in South Korea slowed in August with the on-year employment gain dipping below the 300,000 threshold for the first time in seven months on a downturn in the construction sector and youth unemployment sinking to levels not seen since 1999.
According to employment data released by the Statistics Korea on Wednesday, the number of employed in August stood at 26.74 million, up 212,000 from a year earlier. This is the first time in seven months that the country's on-year job gain sunk below 300,000 after it had been sustained above the level since February. This is also the slowest on-year growth since February 2013 when it hit 201,000.
The slowdown in the job market was mainly led by stunted growth in the construction sector as well as education and real estate sectors, overwhelming a turnaround in the wholesale and retail sectors, according to data.
The number of new job addition in the construction sector stopped short at 34,000 in August, a sharp drop after on-year gains of over 100,000 since February. The rainy weather throughout August was largely to blame for the steep decline in the number of part-time construction laborers. The hospitality and restaurant industry lost 40,000 jobs year over year, while the science and technological service sector shed 34,000 positions.
The manufacturing industry added 25,000 jobs from a year ago, extending its three-month gain. Public administration and defense added 75,000 jobs while health care and welfare gained 48,000.
The number of self-employed workers in August fell by 3,000 on year, shifting to a loss after a year-long gain.
The jobless rate in August remained unchanged from the year-ago period at 3.6 percent. The number of unemployed rose 5,000 from a year earlier to exceed the 1 million threshold again in two months.
The unemployment rate for young people, aged between 15 and 29, was up 0.1 percentage point on year at 9.4 percent, the highest of all August figures since 10.7 percent of 1999.