More than half a million graduates are unemployed for the first time this year, according to first-quarter data from Statistics Korea on Sunday. And the so-called economically inactive population with university degrees — who are not looking for jobs or have given up — exceeded 3.5 million for the first time.
Out of 1.17 million people classed as unemployed, i.e., still looking for jobs, 543,000 or 46.5 percent had bachelor degrees or higher. Some 451,000 completed high school, and the rest left school earlier.
Only the number of unemployed high school finishers went down compared to a year ago, by 9.1 percent, but all the other groups increased.
The highest unemployment rate was among people who had only completed elementary school at 5.3 percent, but the second highest was university graduates at 4.4 percent.
The economically inactive population, which includes housewives, numbered 16.5 million, and over 3.5 million of them were university graduates.
The reason for the increase in unemployed graduates is mainly a mismatch between available jobs and the aspiration of jobseekers. Many graduates opt to improve their resume or take more courses to better their chances of landing a good quality job in a big corporation rather than working for a smaller firm.
An official at Statistics Korea said, “The fact that many young graduates are taking civil service exams also contributes to the high unemployment rate of people with higher education”.
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