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(2nd LD) S. Korea's jobless rate edges down in Oct.
SEOUL, Nov. 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's jobless rate inched down in October from a month earlier but job creation slowed sharply, raising worries that the labor market conditions remain sluggish, a government report showed Wednesday.

   According to the report by Statistics Korea, the jobless rate stood at 2.8 percent last month, down from 2.9 percent tallied in the previous month.

   The number of jobs added to the economy, however, decelerated markedly. About 396,000 jobs were added last month compared with a year earlier, down from 685,000 jobs registered in September, the report showed.

   "Job creation was driven mostly by the 144,000 workers added to payrolls last month, but the growth pace slowed in part due to the base effect of the same period a year earlier when the economy generated 501,000 jobs," the report said.

   Jobs in the manufacturing sector grew 3.6 percent from a year earlier, while the lodging sector and restaurants employed 81,000 more people compared with a year earlier, up 4.4 percent over the same period, the report showed.

   The health and social welfare service sector added 61,000 jobs and the education service sector hired 56,000 more workers.

   But the public administration, national defense and social welfare administration sectors lost 37,000 jobs, and art, sports and leisure-related businesses slashed 25,000 jobs over the same period, the report showed.

   Labor market conditions for young people worsened. The unemployment rate for those aged 15-29 rose to 6.9 percent last month from September's 6.7 percent. This marked the highest rate in three months.

   The latest employment data comes as South Korea's economy faces heightened uncertainty stemming from worries that the protracted eurozone debt problems and global slowdown could dampen growth by undercutting exports.

   The economic growth is losing steam on weak exports and sluggish domestic demand. The local economy grew 0.2 percent on-quarter in the third quarter, its slowest pace in three years.

   Industrial output grew 0.7 percent on-year in September, quickening from a 0.3 percent gain in the previous month, but it still remains in a slump, subdued by less demand for Korean products amid cloudy economic outlooks.

   Think tanks are revising down their growth outlooks for Korea, but the government still sticks to its previous forecasts the economy will grow 3.3 percent this year and 4 percent next year.

   Analysts say those forecasts are overly optimistic given current economic situations and predict this year's economic growth could fall into the 2 percent range.

   Meanwhile, affected by toughened economic situations, a growing number of people seem to be giving up on finding a job.

   According to the report, 179,000 people said that they quit job hunting as they found it difficult to get hired last month, up 7,000 from a year earlier. They were not counted in measuring monthly jobless rates.

   The "economically inactive" population, which also includes those who remain out of the workforce due to child rearing, housekeeping and studying for employment, stood at 15.94 million last month, up 183,000 from a year earlier, the report showed.

   The finance ministry said that the job creation pace will likely continue to slow down despite a steady increase in jobs available, saying that the growth rate will remain in the range of 300,000 until the end of this year.

   A delayed economic recovery is taking its toll on employment conditions, especially for younger people, the ministry added, underlining the need to monitor the labor market for the age group down the road.