South Korea's unemployment rate fell in September, recovering from an eight-year high in August, as increased fiscal spending in the healthcare sector boosted jobs even as manufacturers and retailers shed workers.
The unemployment rate fell to 4.0 per cent in September from 4.2 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms as the number of employed rose by 45,000 people from a year earlier, marking the biggest increase since June, a Statistics Korea report showed on Friday.
Analysts surveyed by Reuters expected unemployment would be in a range of 3.7 per cent to 4.2 per cent, with many forecasting a slow recovery in the job market due to ongoing restructuring in the manufacturing sector as well as President Moon Jae-in's controversial policies to sharply raise minimum wages.
The healthcare and social services sector saw jobs increasing by 133,000 in September from a year earlier, thanks to "the government's efforts to improve healthcare and add social workers in the sector," a Statistics Korea official said after the data was published.
"We're seeing the data bottoming out, although we need to wait and see if the upturn (in job growth) will hold up," said Park Sang-Hyun, an economist at Leading Investment & Securities in Seoul.
President Moon has seen his popularity slide this summer as jobs vanished amid aggressive minimum wage hikes by the government and corporate restructuring.
His support dropped to 49 per cent in early September, a weekly Gallup Korea survey showed, the lowest since he took office in May 2017 as the worst unemployment figures since the global financial crisis sparked a strong public backlash.
(With inputs from agencies.)