For the first time in five months, the number of people unemployed in Korea surpassed one-million, amid rising concerns over the increase in the country's minimum wage this year.
Statistics Korea says the country added 334-thousand new jobs last month compared to the previous year, bringing the total number of people in work to more than 26.2-million.
The number of new jobs increased at the government's target rate of 300-thousand new jobs created per month, however layoffs increased by 31-thousand on-year in the food and lodging sectors, affected by the minimum wage increase to seven U.S. dollars an hour, up 16.4-percent from last year.
The ministry says the mild on-year pick-up came on the back of increased employment in the
semiconductor, construction, and health and social welfare services sectors.
But, the number of people employed in the wholesale and retail sales dropped.
"Job creation in the private sector shows no signs of picking up anytime soon. Also, domestic consumption still remains sluggish except for the construction sector, which is currently benefiting from the country's low interest rate."
An official from the statistics agency attributed the main reasons for the gloomy figures, particularly among young people, to an increased number of people applying for public sector jobs, and a rapidly decreasing population due to low birthrates.
The youth jobless rate in January edged up to eight.seven-percent.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.