Jobless rate falls to 3.5% in April
Korea's jobless rate decelerated in April thanks mainly to more positions created in the service sector, a government report showed Wednesday.
The jobless rate stood at 3.5 percent last month, down from 3.7 percent a year earlier, according to the report by Statistics Korea. Last month's tally also represents a drop from a jobless rate of 3.7 percent reached in March.
A total of 455,000 jobs were added to payrolls in April with 24.75 million people employed in the country overall, the report showed.
The employment rate edged up 0.4 percentage points to 59.7 percent.
The number of jobs created last month rose from 379,000 reported a year earlier, and is a gain compared to 419,000 new posts created in March.
"There was an increase in jobs created in the service sector centered around healthcare and welfare workers, education-related positions and retailers that contributed to the overall improvements in the jobless rate," the agency said in the report.
Reflecting improvements, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dipped to 3.4 percent from 3.6 percent tallied a year earlier, while the unemployment rate among young people between 15 and 29 stood at 8.5 percent, a drop of 0.2 percentage points from April 2011.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, however, stood unchanged from the previous month, with unemployment among young people rising from 8.3 percent in March.
The economically active population came to 25.65 million, up 1.6 percent from the same month a year earlier, according to the report.
The latest job data comes as Asia's fourth-largest economy grew 2.8 percent in the first quarter in the face of lingering eurozone concerns and sluggish growth in the United States and China that has hurt trade and exports. South Korea grew 3.6 percent in 2011, with the government predicting growth to reach 3.7 percent this year.
The country posted a trade surplus of $2.11 billion in April, buoyed by a steady rise in overseas demand for locally-made cars, steel and machinery products. It marked a decrease from the $2.37 billion surplus tallied the previous month.
Despite the third straight month of trade surplus, Korea's exports contracted 4.8 percent on-year to $46.19 billion last month with imports falling 0.2 percent to $44.08 billion.
The finance ministry, meanwhile, said last month's employment figures reflected an overall improvement in the local job market boosted by private sector hiring. This, it said, was helped by the creation of more than 6,000 new businesses in the country in April.
"Despite sluggish economic growth, there has been a rise in demand for workers that contributed to improved job market figures," it said. "While the overall number of workers will likely grow in May, gains may be hurt as the global market is rocked by mounting European debt concerns."(Yonhap)