Young South Koreans Abandoning Job Search

Aug. 20, 2008
They are also shunning positions in the manufacturing sector.

More and more young South Koreans have stopped looking for work because jobs matching their qualifications are so hard to find, officials said August 20. About 120,000 people, mostly in their 20s and early 30s, were not actively seeking jobs in July, up 15.5% from a year earlier, the National Statistical Office (NSO) said.

For women, the situation is especially severe. The number of women who had stopped looking for jobs stood at 55,000 in July, up 17,200 from a year earlier. The figure for men was 65,000, down 1,100 from a year earlier.

"The challenging job market is driving many educated young people to give up seeking jobs," Kim Hyun-Ae, a NSO director, said. President Lee Myung-Bak has vowed to boost growth and cut high youth unemployment.

But Asia's fourth-largest economy is grappling with rising inflation, high prices for oil and raw materials and lingering global financial uncertainty. Sluggish private consumption has hit the services sector hard, making more businesses unwilling to take on staff. The number of job openings in July was 153,000, below the government's target of 200,000.

"There are still enough openings in manual and low-paying positions in the manufacturing sector but young people shun such jobs," Kim said. "The mismatch between job seekers and companies is driving educated people out of work. They opt to remain economically inactive, waiting for decent jobs."

The number of decent jobs, which offer high salaries and good job security, has decreased because of intensifying competition among college graduates.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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