South Korea’s unemployment rate up for a 3rd month

SEOUL: South Korea’s jobless rate ticked higher for a third month, an unexpected outcome that illustrates the challenge of boosting hiring in an economy struggling with slumping exports and weak investment.

The unemployment rate climbed to 3.6% in November, seasonally adjusted data from the statistics office showed Wednesday.

Economists had predicted the rate would stay unchanged at 3.5%.

The jobless figure has climbed for three months since hitting a six-year-low of 3.1% in August.

Wednesday’s report shows South Korea’s job market remains on a wobbly footing, with exports dropping by double-digits most months this year and the economy headed for its slowest annual growth since the global financial crisis.

The biggest jobs gains in November came for people in their 60s, where hiring rose 1.4%.

The number reflected government social welfare programmes, which focus on providing part-time employment for older people who’ve already retired from full-time jobs, according to Sung Tae-yoon, an economics professor at Seoul’s Yonsei University.

“The actual picture of employment still looks tough, given government spending has led job creation toward the end of the year,” Sung said.