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South Korean economy shows mixed signals Updated: 2017-06-19 07:14:09 KST

According to the OECD, South Korea's GDP grew by 1.1 percent in the first quarter of this year, up from 0.5 percent in the previous quarter.

That's an increase in the growth rate of 0.6 percentage points, which is the second fastest rise among countries in the G20.

Brazil topped the list, rising by 1.5 percentage points.

Canada and Germany trailed behind South Korea, each with 0.2 percentage points.

A number of factors have been suggested for South Korea's promising performance in Q1, including growth in exports as well as facility investments.

For instance, the country's exports in the first quarter increased by nearly 15 percent compared to the same period last year.

Product-wise, a major contributor has been ICT-related goods, including semiconductors and displays.

Thanks to increasing trade with China, Vietnam and the EU, South Korea's ICT exports have increased for 7-straight months including May.

But other news suggests that GDP figures may not not be giving an accurate picture of Korea's real economic condition.

According to OECD results released on the same day, South Korea's unemployment rate for young people aged 15 to 24 was 11.2% in April,which is an increase of 2.5 percentage points compared the 8.7 percent recorded in December of 2016.

This increase of 2.5 percentage points is 8 times the rate of the country with the second highest rise in youth unemployment, Austria, which was up 0.3 percentage points.

The Korean government is well aware of this problem.

President Moon hopes a proposed supplementary budget worth around 9.9 billion U.S. dollars will help alleviate youth unemployment.
The opposition parties have expressed reluctance to spend money primarily on hiring in the public sector, so it remains to be seen whether lawmakers in parliament will get behind the bill.
Kim Jung-soo, Arirang News.
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