The number of people working in Korea has seen its largest on-year growth in 15 months, boosting the expectation a long-awaited economic recovery may be just around the corner.

Statistics Korea released an employment trend report on Wednesday showing that 26 million South Koreans were employed in March, up 466-thousand from the same month last year. It is the largest increase in employment since 495-thousand jobs were added in December of 2015.

In particular, service and construction industries saw a sharp increase in employment. The number of jobs in the manufacturing industry, however, fell for the ninth consecutive month, with 83-thousand jobs lost last month.

The overall employment rate stood at 60-point-two percent, the highest to be posted in March since 1997.

The unemployment rate dropped zero-point-one percentage points to four-point-two percent, while the youth unemployment rate came to eleven-point-three percent, down zero-point-five percentage points.
The Bank of Korea injected further optimism on Thursday, as it said that the nation’s economy is seeing slight growth thanks to improved exports and investment.

The central bank unveiled the assessment after announcing a rate freeze at one-and-a quarter percent at the monthly monetary policy meeting.

The bank said that though consumption continues to be sluggish, the nation’s economy is estimated to have expanded slightly due to improved exports and investment.

It then projected that the growth outlook for the nation’s gross domestic product this year will slightly surpass the January projection of two-and-a-half percent.

The bank forecast that growth in consumer prices will fluctuate within the two percent range for the time being to stand at a little over the January projection of one-point-eight percent this year.

The government said that despite the better-than-expected labor market, it will continue efforts to bolster employment, noting remaining risk factors such as economic uncertainties at home and abroad, and repercussions from corporate restructuring.