SEOUL, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's jobless rate rose above 3 percent for the first time in five months due to a seasonal factor, but job growth accelerated on the back of strong job creation in the manufacturing sector, a government report showed Wednesday.
The unemployment rate was 3.4 percent in January, topping the 3 percent mark for the first time since August last year, according to Statistics Korea. The reading was up from 2.9 percent in the prior month.
The rise was attributed to a seasonal factor. "The unemployed tends to increase in January as job-seeking activity strengthens ahead of a university graduation," the statistical agency said in a statement.
The number of people unemployed, who failed to land work despite job-hunting efforts, increased to 847,000 last month after posting 737,000 in the previous month.
The jobless rate gauges the percentage of people unemployed who actively sought jobs over the past four weeks to the economically active population, or the sum of people employed and those unemployed.
The jobless rate among those aged between 15 and 29 was 7.5 percent in January, unchanged from the previous month. The figure was down 0.5 percentage point from the same month of last year.
Job creation accelerated due to solid performance in the manufacturing industry. The total number of people employed rose 322,000 from a year earlier to 24,054,000 in January. The gain was up from 277,000 jobs created in the previous month.
By industry, the manufacturing sector created 156,000 jobs last month, with the health and social welfare service industry employing 105,000 workers. Those figures were up 3.9 percent and 8. 1 percent each from a year earlier. The wholesale & retail industry reduced 55,000 jobs in January, and the construction sector cut 48,000 workers.
The hiring rate, which gauges the percentage of working people to the working age population, or those aged 15 and over, came in at 57.4 percent in January after posting 58.3 percent in the previous month. The employment rate is an alternative measure to the jobless rate for assessing labor market conditions.
The number of people employed as a regular worker increased 523, 000 in January compared with the prior year, while workers hired on a daily basis and irregular workers reduced by 77,000 and 49, 000 respectively. The number of self-employed decreased 21,000 last month.
The number of those working less than 36 hours a week reached 3, 371,000 in January, up 3.4 percent from a year earlier. Among them, involuntary part-time workers came to 318,000, up 0.1 percent over the same period.
The involuntary part-time workers are those who want to work full time and are available to do so, but they are employed part time as their working hours are cut back involuntarily or they are unable to find a full time job.
In January, people working less than 18 hours per week stood at 1,150,000, among whom those working part time for economic reasons and wanting to work full time reached 114,000.
The economically inactive population, or people aged over 15 minus the economically active population, stood at 16,975,000 in January, up 1.4 percent from a year earlier.
The number of people who prepare for job-searching increased 56, 000 from a year before to 572,000 in January, and the number of people too discouraged to continue their search for jobs rose 7, 000 to 212,000 last month.
Discouraged workers are those who want to work and are available to do so, but they failed to get the job due to tough labor market conditions. They are those who looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months.
The so-called "take-a-rest" item, or those who replied that they took a rest during the job survey period, reached 1,832,000 in January, down 9.1 percent from a year earlier. The item is important as it can include those who are unemployed and too discouraged to search for work for a long time.