South Korean Jobless Rate Rises to Four-Month High on Weakness in Exports

South Korea’s unemployment rose to a four-month high last month as weakness in the global economy pared export demand.

The jobless rate was 3.2 percent, Statistics Korea said today in Gwacheon, south of Seoul. That matched the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 11 economists and compared with 3.1 percent in December,

The Bank of Korea held off raising benchmark interest rates last week for an eighth month, the longest pause since tightening began in July 2010. External uncertainty, weak consumer and business sentiment, and high household debt are weighing on growth and downside risks are greater than upside risks, the central bank said.

“Weak external demand” will continue to weigh on the labor market, Ronald Man, a Hong Kong-based analyst at HSBC Holdings Plc, said before today’s data.

The seasonally unadjusted jobless rate was at 3.5 percent in January, compared with 3 percent in December, today’s report showed. The number of people employed increased by 536,000, or 2.3 percent, to 23.7 million last month from a year earlier.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eunkyung Seo in Seoul at eseo3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Panckhurst at ppanckhurst@bloomberg.net

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