Older Workers Pull South Korea Jobless Rate Down to Record Low

A man looks at a document during a job fair in Seoul, South Korea, April 12, 2017.

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s unemployment rate has fallen back to a record low, data showed on Wednesday, mainly due to increased employment among people aged 60 and over, and as shrinking exports and a sluggish housing market have yet to significantly hit payrolls.

The unemployment rate was 2.6% in February versus 2.9% in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, matching a record low also touched in August, showed data from Statistics Korea.

Economists said the data is one of the most time-lagging indicators.

“Manufacturing and construction sectors, among others, will soon begin to show the effects of shrinking exports and a weakening housing market,” said Park Sang-hyun at HI Investment and Securities.

People aged 60 or older contributed most to the declining unemployment rate with the figure in this age group falling to 1.6% from 2.6% a month earlier. The jobless rates for other age groups changed little, with some rising slightly.

Exports fell in each of the past five months from a year earlier as the global economy slowed after a series of monetary tightening measures worldwide.