SEOUL, June 9 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's employment growth topped 600,000 for two straight months, reflecting an economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic shock, statistical office data showed Wednesday.
The number of those employed was 27,550,000 in May, up 619,000 from a year earlier, according to Statistics Korea.
The employment continued to slide from March last year to February this year on the back of the economic turmoil from the pandemic.
It rebounded with an increase of 314,000 in March this year, and jumped 652,000 in April on a yearly basis.
The improvement of job data, one of the lagging economic indicators, indicated a recent recovery of the economy.
The revised figure for real gross domestic product (GDP), adjusted for inflation, expanded 1.7 percent in the January-March quarter from the previous quarter, recovering to a pre-pandemic level.
Export, which takes up about half of the South Korean economy, surged 45.6 percent in May from a year ago, after advancing 41.2 percent in the previous month.
The number of jobs in the manufacturing industry went up 19,000 in May on a yearly basis, after growing 9,000 in April amid the export recovery.
Employment in the services sector increased 477,000 last month, after expanding 262,000 in March and 507,000 in April respectively.
It was attributable to the launch of mass vaccinations in late February and the eased social-distancing guidelines.
Jobs in the lodging and eatery segment, which was hit hard by the pandemic, kept an upward trend for two months in a row.
The numbers in the healthcare and social welfare, the construction, and the facility management and rental services sectors gained ground, but the employment for the wholesale and retail, and the arts, sports and leisure services segments shrank last month.
The number of regular and irregular workers grew 355,000 and 307,000 respectively in May, but the figure for day laborers slipped 20,000 on a yearly basis.
Employment among those in their 20s, 50s and 60s or higher moved up last month, but those in their 30s and 40s declined amid the aging population that reduced the number of people in those age groups.
Employment rate among those aged 15 or higher rose 1.0 percentage point over the year to 61.2 percent in May.
The employment rate gauges the percentage of working people to the working-age population, or those aged 15 or above. Given the aging population, it is used as an alternative to show the labor market conditions more precisely.
The number of those unemployed totaled 1,148,000 in May, down 130,000 from a year earlier. Unemployment rate declined 0.5 percentage points to 4.0 percent last month.
The jobless rate measures those who are immediately available for work but fail to get a job for the past four weeks despite efforts to actively seek a job.
The number of economically inactive population, who had no willingness to seek a job and remained unemployed, came to 16,351,000 in May, down 196,000 from a year ago.
The number of the so-called "take-a-rest" group, who replied that they took a rest during a job survey period, gained 1,000 over the year to 2,287,000 in May, and the reading for discouraged job seekers went up 34,000 to 612,000.
The "take-a-rest" group is considered important as it can include those who are too discouraged to seek a job for an extended period of time.