The Korea Herald


Youth unemployment soars as young opt for break instead of job seeking

By Lee Jung-youn

Published : June 18, 2023 - 14:13

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The number of young people taking time off without seeking jobs or studying is on the rise, official statistics showed Sunday, as Korea struggles to tackle the world's lowest birth rate and a rapidly aging society.

The number of employed people in their 20s declined 63,000 year-on-year in May to reach 3.83 million, marking a consecutive seven-month slump since November last year, according to Statistics Korea. The number of unemployed individuals also decreased by 67,000 compared to the previous year, reaching 241,000.

When asked about their participation in economic activity last month, 357,000 unemployed young people in their 20s reported they were taking a break without actively job hunting or preparing for work, indicating an increase of 36,000 compared to the previous year,

The most frequently cited reason for their job hunt hiatus was “the unavailability of jobs offering desirable wages and working conditions.”

The 20s age group was the only age bracket where a significant increase was observed in individuals who reported they were unemployed and not looking for jobs.

Of those in their 20s who did not engage in economic activities, 997,000 said they were admitted to formal educational institutions, followed by 357,000 who simply rested. Some 331,000 young people said they were job hunting, and 113,000 took classes at private institutions for employment.

This comes as Korea has struggled with a shrinking population.

An analysis by the Korean Statistical Information Service showed the number of people in their 20s stood at 6.155 million last month, down 196,000 from 6.351 million in the same month last year. The population in their 20s has tumbled year-on-year every month since July 2021.