Seoul's elderly employment soars 50 pct in last decade

SEOUL, May 28 (Yonhap) -- The number of elderly Seoulites with jobs has leaped 50 percent over the past 10 years, while that of working youth has plunged more than 20 percent, data showed Tuesday.

A total of 513,000 Seoul citizens aged 60 or older were employed in 2012, compared with 342,000 people in 2002, according to the data by a municipal-run think tank. The annual growth rate averaged 4.1 percent over the 10-year period.

In contrast, the capital city's employed population in the 15-29 age group tumbled 25.1 percent from 1.2 million to 903,000 over the cited period, marking an average 2.9 percent annualized drop.

In total, the working population in Seoul climbed 5 percent to 5 million last year from 4.8 million 10 years earlier, according to the data.

"Due to a longer life span, more senior citizens try to look for jobs after retirement," said an analyst at the institute. "However, the young population remains mired in a serious job crunch."

The city's employment trend runs parallel with the country's overall figures. The nationwide youth employment rate hit a record low of 55.8 percent in March, with the corresponding rate for the elderly on the rise in recent years, according to government data.

Analysts say the nation's rapid population aging has prompted more senior citizens to seek jobs after retirement, while young people find it hard to land jobs amid a prolonged economic slump.

South Korea is fast becoming an aged society, in which more than 14 percent of the population is 65 or older. The country became an aging society in 2000, when the ratio topped 7 percent.

The government expects the economy to grow 2.3 percent this year, compared with a 2 percent gain last year.

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