South Korea’s Youth Unemployment Rate Rises to Record High

  • Jobless rate climbs to 8.2 percent for people aged 25-29
  • Overall unemployment rate falls to 3.6 percent in November

People stage a rally in protest of President Park Geun-hye in Seoul.

Photographer: Kyodo News via Getty Images

South Korea’s youth unemployment rate rose to a record high in November, following political protests that paralyzed the government and led parliament to vote to impeach the president.

The unadjusted jobless rate for people aged 25 to 29 rose to 8.2 percent in November, up from 8 percent in October and 7.4 percent a year earlier, Statistics Korea said. That is the highest in comparable data back to 1999. The seasonally-adjusted jobless rate fell to 3.6 percent from 3.7 percent in October, with rising employment in agriculture and fisheries compensating for job losses in manufacturing.

The nation’s government has been at a standstill, with people flooding the streets demanding President Park Geun-hye resignation over an influence-peddling scandal. Her approval rating among people in their twenties hit zero last month, with the lack of good jobs and widening inequality fueling their anger.

Read more on the scandal that led to Park’s impeachment

"A good portion of the youth between 25 and 29 -- the most active job seekers of all -- are those who just finished university," said Kim Yi-han, director at the finance ministry’s policy planning division. "Not only is the economy not in good shape and not creating enough good jobs now, but winter is also a cold season for job seekers, with hiring by large conglomerates kicking off in spring or summer."

Even with the president now suspended from power and an interim leader in place, Asia’s fourth-largest economy is still faced with numerous problems. The manufacturing sector has shed jobs as distressed shipbuilding and shipping companies restructure their businesses, household debt is rising, and an economic recovery is slowing.

The constitutional court will now examine parliament’s decision on Park, who has denied any wrongdoing. The process may take as long as six months. If the judges concur, a national election would be held about two months later.

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