Record high number of jobseekers entering workforce in South Korea

The number of people preparing for employment has hit a record high last month in a pandemic-affected labour market.
By: | March 23, 2021

The number of people who study or train to find jobs in government agencies and large companies totaled 853,000 in February, up 10.8 percentage points from a year earlier, according to the analysis of state job data by Yonhap News on Sunday. 

This is the highest number since the country began compiling comparative data from 2003. Those in their 20s and 30s made up the lion’s share of 89% or 760,000 of the total number. 

Those who study at private institutes for state-administered tests or at vocational training centres to prepare for employment are classified as part of the economically inactive population, reported KBS. 

According to an OECD report, the employment rate of young Koreans is well below the OECD average. In 2017, 42% of youth aged 15-29 living in Korea were employed. The 2017 OECD average was 53%.  

READ: Unemployment benefit surpasses 1 trillion won in South Korea

Between 1997 and 2017, the Korean youth employment rate fell by four percentage points due to declines in the employment rates of 15-19 year olds (from 10% to 8%) and of 20-24 year olds (from 58% to 45%) that were partially offset by a slight increase among 25-29 year olds (from 68% to 69%).  

Youth employment declined more between 1997 and 1998 than between 2007 and 2008, reflecting the stronger employment effects of the Asian Financial Crisis than the Global Financial Crisis.