(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with details; CHANGES headline)
SEOUL, Aug. 9 (Yonhap) — The number of jobs created in South Korea on a year-on-year basis slowed for the fourth consecutive month in July, reaching its lowest point in 29 months, due to weak employment in the manufacturing and construction sectors.
The total number of employed people in the country was recorded at 28.68 million in July, an increase of around 211,000 compared to the same period the year before, according to the data from Statistics Korea.
Last month, the unemployment rate was 2.7 percent, a decrease of 0.2 percentage points, the lowest since June 1999.
South Korea’s year-on-year job additions had been slowing for nine consecutive months until March, when it rose by 469,000. However, the growth has been decreasing since then.
Positions for those aged 60 and above increased by 298,000, while those for people in their 50s went up by 61,000.
Conversely, the number of jobs for people in their 20s and 40s dropped by 128,000 and 61,000 respectively.
In terms of sectors, the number of jobs in the welfare and social service segment rose by 145,000, and those in the accommodation and restaurant sector increased by 125,000 as more people returned to pre-pandemic activities.
The science and technology sector also saw an increase of 62,000 jobs.
On the other hand, the retail and wholesale industry experienced a decrease of 55,000 jobs, and the construction sector saw a decline of 43,000 due to the economic slowdown.
The manufacturing sector lost 35,000 jobs, marking seven consecutive months of decline, and the agricultural industry saw a decrease of 42,000 jobs.
“The number of jobs continued to rise overall due to the rising demand for caretaking services and increasing outdoor activities,” an agency official said. “Heavy rains and the (sluggish) construction industry, however, led to the lower growth compared to the previous month.”
Meanwhile, the employment-to-population ratio of South Koreans aged 15-64 edged up 0.5 percentage point to 69.6 percent, the highest since 1989.
The finance ministry recently estimated the number of employed people to rise by 320,000 on-year each month in 2023, a significant increase from the previous estimate of 100,000.
In July, the Bank of Korea kept its key interest rate unchanged at 3.5 percent for the fourth straight time. Prior to that, the central bank delivered seven consecutive rate hikes from April 2022 to January 2023.
A hike in borrowing costs typically hampers employment as businesses and households cut their spending.