The number of employed people increased by a mere 1.52 percent, or 411,000, to 27,363,000 last month from a year earlier, according to the statistical office.
The payroll increase has continued to slow down since 935,000 jobs were added in May 2022 after the economy showed a strong recovery from the COVID-19 shock.
"Jobs were added at a slower pace, affected by falling exports, particularly of manufactured goods, and the economic downturn," Suh Eun-ju, social data director at Statistics Korea, said. She expected the slowing trend will persist for the time being unless the country's exports rebound.
The Bank of Korea (BOK) predicted the Korean economy to grow 1.7 percent this year, down from last year's estimated growth rate of 2.6 percent, amid the global economic slump and sagging exports.
In December last year, payrolls rose by 509,000 before falling further to the 400,000-level last month. The January figure represented the lowest increase since 314,000 jobs were added in March 2021. The country, however, has manage to maintain the upward trend for 23 months in a row.
People aged 60 and older found 400,000 jobs, accounting for 97.3 percent of the total added jobs in January. Payrolls increased by 107,000 for those in their 50s and by 17,000 for those in their 30s.
However, people aged between 15 and 29 saw jobs decrease by 51,000 with their employment rate standing at 46.1 percent, far lower than the overall employment rate of 60.3 percent. Those in their 40 also suffered a decline of 63,000 payrolls, while their employment rate remained relatively high at 77.4 percent.
Suh said that the loss of jobs for the young age groups resulted from the declining birthrate and a subsequent fall in the population.
Healthcare and social services jobs surged by 220,000 in January, leading the overall payroll increase. Lodging and dining payrolls also jumped by 214,000.
However, manufacturing jobs fell by 35,000, marking the first drop in 15 months. This reflected the fact that the economy has slowed down amid sluggish exports and sagging domestic demand.
The retail and wholesale sector lost 61,000 jobs, followed by transportation and warehousing with a fall of 51,000 jobs and construction with a decline of 39,000 payrolls.
The number of unemployed people dropped by 119,000 year-on-year to 1.02 million last month, surpassing 1 million for the first time in a year. The jobless rate declined by 0.5 percentage point to 3.6 percent.
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