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South Korea jobless rate hits 8-year high

ReutersSEOUL (Reuters) — South Korea’s unemployment rate hit an eight-year high in August as mandatory minimum wages rose, adding to economic policy frustrations and political challenges for President Moon Jae In, whose approval rating is now at its lowest since inauguration.

The unemployment rate rose to 4.2 percent in August from 3.8 percent in July in seasonally adjusted terms as the number of unemployed rose by 134,000 people from a year earlier.

This was the labor market’s worst performance since January 2010, when the economy was still reeling from the global financial crisis, when 10,000 jobs were lost.

More than 60 percent of respondents in a Gallup Korea survey criticized Moon’s handling of the economy, including his “inability to improve the livelihoods of ordinary citizens” and “minimum wage increases.”

The jobs report showed the labor-intensive retail and accommodation sector, which lost 202,000 jobs in August from a year earlier, was the hardest hit.

A total 105,000 jobs were lost from manufacturing industries, the report said.

However, the agriculture, construction and transport sectors saw a rise in the number of employed, partly offsetting the rise in the number of workers laid off.

The overall number of employed people rose by just 3,000 — also the worst since January 2010.Speech

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