According to official statistics released on Monday, the number of discouraged employees in South Korea reached a new all-time high in 2021 owing to a sluggish employment market and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Data from Statistics Kore shows that Asia's fourth-largest economy had 628,000 discouraged employees, the highest number since related data collecting began in 2014.
Discouraged employees are those who are now jobless and have not looked for work in the last four weeks owing to a lack of relevant job possibilities or other reasons, despite the fact that they are qualified for work and want to work, and have previous job search experience.
The increase in the number of discouraged employees is commonly attributed to the labour market's unresponsiveness as a result of the continuing health crisis. According to the report, the number of jobless South Koreans looking for work for six months or more was 128,000 last year, up 8.1 percent from 2020 and the first time in three years.
Long-term jobless Koreans in their twenties and thirties accounted for 65,000 people, or slightly more than half of the total. Despite the fact that South Korea's headline unemployment rate declined to 3.7 percent in 2021 from 4 percent a year earlier, the number of discouraged employees and long-term unemployed persons increased.