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50% of Total Jobless People Are in Their 20s

Posted April. 10, 2003 22:19,   


The unemployment rate for people in their twenties reached an 8 percent high for three consecutive months from January through March. As companies are hesitating to recruit new employees amongst the current economic downturn with no intention of expanding their investments, the unemployment rate for able-bodied youth is expected to continue for a while. According to “March Employment Status” released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) on April 10, the total rate of unemployment stood at 3.6 percent with some 807,000 people unemployed; this is a reduction of 0.1 percent point (15,000 people) as compared to the previous month.

NSO analyzed, “The situation got a little better in March as more jobs were created in the agricultural, forestry, fishery and construction industries and with many college students returning to school”.

The unemployment rate for those in their twenties has recently become a serious social issue, remaining at 8.0 percent, with some 375,000 out of work. The figure decreased by 0.5 percent point (29,000) from the previous month of February. The rate was more than double the figure for the nation`s total unemployment rate, and encompasses nearly half of all those who are unemployed.

Compared to last March when the economy was in relatively better shape, the unemployment rate for twenty-somethings this year increased by 40,000, up 1 percent point. By academic background, 2.0 percent of the unemployed consisted of junior high school graduates while 4.0 percent and 4.3 percent were high school graduates and college graduates, respectively.

The rate of temporary employees and daily employees stood at 34.7 percent and 14.9 percent, up 0.2 percent and 0.4 percent compared to the previous month while the rate for those normally employed dropped by 0.5 percent to 50.5 percent, showing that quality in the employment market worsened.

“Unless college graduates get a job upon graduation, their knowledge and passion will rapidly drop,” Prof. Kim Jong-suk at the Economics Department at Hongik University said. “The high unemployment rate among young people leads to the wasting of human resources and the deterioration of national competitiveness.”

“To resolve the problem fundamentally, companies should be able to recover first,” Kim added. “There should be an economic stimulus package including the easing of corporate regulations while trying to resolve the structural problems of the Korean labor market.”

Kwang-Hyun Kim kkh@donga.com