SEOUL, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- Job creation in South Korea grew most in around 12 years last month, indicating that the country's labor market showed signs of full-fledged recovery, a government report showed Wednesday.
The number of people employed reached 24,759,000 in January, up 705,000 from the same month last year, according to Statistics Korea. It was the largest monthly increase since March 2002 when the job creation reached 842,000.
The country's employment accelerated its growth pace since May last year when 265,000 jobs were added, before rising by more than 500,000 for two straight months through December.
Employment among young people showed an unusually positive picture. Jobs created among people aged 15 to 29 increased 74,000 in January from a year earlier, the highest expansion in around 12 years.
Employment for those in their 20s rose 80,000 last month, keeping its growth trend for five straight months. The figure for those in their 30s rose 11,000, the first increase in eight months, and the reading for those in their 40s gained 90,000 last month.
The service sector led the employment growth. Job creation in the wholesale and retail sectors grew by 126,000 in January from a year earlier, and those in the healthcare and social welfare service industries expanded 122,000.
The economically inactive population, or people aged over 15 minus the economically active population, reduced 322,000, or 1.9 percent, in January from a year earlier, hinting that more people rushed to seek jobs in the labor market.
Among the population, those in housework declined 206,000 on year in January, with those in school for study falling 72,000. The number of job preparers, or those preparing for job-searching, fell 38,000 last month.
People too discouraged to continue their search for jobs shrank 25,000 in the cited period. Discouraged workers are those who want to work and available to do so, but failed to get a 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, plunged 154,000 on year in January. The item is important as it can include those who are unemployed and too discouraged to search for work for a long period of time.
As the job searchers increased, the jobless rate increased 0.1 percentage point from a year ago to 3.5 percent in January. The number of people unemployed expanded 44,000 to 891,000 last month.
The jobless rate measures the percentage of those unemployed who actively sought jobs over the past four weeks to the economically active population, or the sum of people employed and unemployed.
The unemployment rate among those aged 15-29 was 8.7 percent in January, up 1.2 percentage points from a year before.
The hiring rate increased 1.1 percentage points in January from a year earlier, the highest gain since March 2004, when the employment rate rose by the same percentage.
The employment rate gauges the percentage of working people to the working age population, or those aged 15 and over. It is used as an alternative to the jobless rate for assessing labor market conditions.
The OECD-measured hiring rate, or the figure for those aged 15 to 64, rose 1.3 percentage points from a year earlier to 64.3 percent, the fastest rise in around 12 years.