South Korea's jobless rate has risen to the highest level seen in 17 years for the month of March.
According to data by Statistics Korea on Wednesday, the number of unemployed people in the country hit around one-point-two-five million last month. That's up 120-thousand from the same period last year.
The agency said the number of people without jobs topped the one million mark for the third consecutive month. The jobless rate reached four-point-five percent in March, the highest rate for the month since 2001.
In particular, the unemployment rate for young people, aged between 15 and 29, came to eleven-point-six percent, the highest March figure in two years.
What's more, the number of employed people grew by only 112-thousand year-on-year last month to stand at around 26-point-six million. It marked the second consecutive month for the on-year increase to remain in the 100-thousand range.
The monthly rise had been over 300-thousand in January but has flopped to the 100-thousand range since February.
Observers say the sluggish growth is due to a number of reasons including the economic situation, demographics and a base effect, as well as the minimum wage hike introduced earlier this year.
Statistics Korea attributes the waning growth to difficulties in the construction sector and an overall decline in the population.
Wholesale and retail businesses as well as the food and accommodation and real estate sectors have seen a substantial decrease in the number of employed people, which is believed to be in part due to the higher minimum wage.
The employment rate for people aged 15 to 64 was the same as a year ago at 66.1 percent in March.
Meanwhile, the economically non-active population grew by 22-thousand last month year-on-year. Of this demographic, a record 696-thousand people are said to be preparing for employment, which is the highest level since 2003 when data began to be compiled.
Earlier this month, the government proposed an extra budget largely to help make more jobs for young people, and the latest job figures will only further the need for such measures.