South Korea’s jobless rate in May falls to record low; factory sector still shaky

South Korea’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 2.5 per cent in May, the lowest since the data series began in June 1999. PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL - South Korea’s jobless rate fell in May to a record low, official data showed on Wednesday, indicating a still robust labour market despite signs of slowing economic growth.

The employment report provides a brighter backdrop to the country as it navigates external challenges from tighter monetary policy and weak demand in key trading partner economies.

The country’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 2.5 per cent in May from 2.6 per cent in April, the lowest since the data series began in June 1999, according to Statistics Korea.

The number of employed people increased by 351,000 from the same month a year earlier, slightly less than 354,000 in April, extending its run of annual gains that started in March 2021.

The Finance Ministry said the data showed jobs growth remained at a satisfactory level, given high base effects and the country’s population decline, and noted the continued recovery in the service sector and a softer decline of employment in the manufacturing sector.

By industry, health and social welfare workers increased by 166,000, followed by hospitality and catering services, which gained 128,000 employees.

The construction sector lost 66,000 jobs, while the manufacturing sector saw a loss of 39,000 jobs.

The job increase was led by people in their 60s and older, up by 379,000, offsetting declines in other age groups.

The data comes as other indicators from exports to factory production and retail sales point to the country’s sluggish growth amid weakening demand at home and abroad on global monetary tightening. REUTERS

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