Bloomberg News

South Korea’s Unemployment Rate Holds Near a 3-Year Low

October 11, 2011

(Updates with comments from analyst in fourth paragraph.)

Oct. 12 (Bloomberg) -- South Korea’s unemployment rate held near a three-year low last month as the service sector, wholesalers and retailers hired more workers.

The jobless rate was at 3.2 percent in September, compared with 3.1 percent in August, Statistics Korea said today in Gwacheon, south of Seoul. That matched the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 10 economists.

South Korea’s central bank will extend tomorrow a pause in interest-rate increases as weakness in European economies and the U.S. threatens demand for the nation’s exports, according to a Bloomberg News survey of economists. Economist Nouriel Roubini told a forum in Seoul yesterday that Europe’s response to its debt crisis risks being “too little, too late.”

“Labor market conditions remain tight,” Wai Ho Leong, a senior regional economist at Barclays Capital in Singapore, said before the release. “Still, the central bank will stand pat, on escalation of financial market turmoil.”

The won rose 0.6 percent to 1,164.50 per dollar as of 3 p.m. close in Seoul yesterday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The currency touched 1,160.80, the strongest level since Sept. 23. The benchmark Kospi stock index gained 1.6 percent.

The seasonally unadjusted jobless rate was at 3 percent in September, unchanged from August, today’s report showed. The number of employed people increased by 264,000, or 1.1 percent, to 24.318 million last month from a year earlier.

Employment in manufacturing fell 1.2 percent from a year earlier, while the number of people self-employed or working in the public-service sector increased 2.5 percent.

The number employed in the electricity, transportation, telecommunication and finance sectors rose 6.1 percent, while jobs in the agricultural, fishery and forestry industries declined 3.3 percent.

The health and welfare service sector added 120,000 jobs while wholesalers and retailers added 88,000 jobs in September from a year ago, the data showed.

--With assistance from Sarina Yoo in Seoul. Editors: Paul Panckhurst, Ken McCallum

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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