South Korea unemployment rate climbs to six-month high

SEOUL (Reuters) -South Korea’s jobless rate climbed in July for a second month and hit the highest since January, with job growth its slowest in nearly 2-1/2 years.

The unemployment rate rose to 2.8% in July on a seasonally adjusted basis, from 2.6% in June, Statistics Korea data showed on Wednesday. Its reading of 2.5% in May was the lowest since the data series began in June 1999.

The number of employed people increased by 211,000 in July from the year before, smaller than a rise of 333,000 in June and the smallest since February 2021.

By industry, the health and social welfare sector added 145,000 jobs and the accommodation and food services added 125,000, but construction and agricultural sectors lost 43,000 and 42,000 jobs, respectively.

Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho said after the data release job growth slowed in July due to declines in sectors affected by heavy rain, but overall data continued a solid trend.

South Korea’s economic growth sped up in the second quarter, but mostly due to headline improvements in trade, while weaker consumer and business spending suggested a frail recovery.

(Reporting by Jihoon Lee; Editing by Sandra Maler and Stephen Coates)