S. Korean breadwinners hit even as jobs increase

By BLOOMBERG

SEOUL • While employment growth accelerated for the second straight month in South Korea, the number of jobs for people aged 30 to 49 extended its years-long decline amid a slowdown in manufacturing that is hurting family breadwinners.

The number of jobs increased by 250,000 in March from a year earlier, following a 263,000 gain in February, data from Statistics Korea showed yesterday.

There was a sharp rise in the number of jobs for people age 60 and over, concentrated in sectors such health, welfare and public administration.

The results are unlikely to ease pressure on President Moon Jae-in, who was elected on a pledge to create hundreds of thousands of jobs and to raise the incomes of regular workers.

Increasing public sector jobs hasn’t offset weakness in manufacturing and big jumps in the minimum wage have been blamed for crimping expansion in low-pay positions.

“The quantity of employment seems to be improving but the quality of the jobs is expected to remain unhealthy for quite some time,” said Park Chong-hoon, an economist at Standard Chartered Bank in Seoul.

The decline in new positions for middle-age workers reflects sluggish capital investment, according to Park, who said companies need to drive employment growth, rather than public sector hiring.

Meanwhile, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 3.8% last month, lower than the median forecast of economists of 3.9%. — Bloomberg