The graph above shows a fairly stable rate of unemployment since the 1980s. Currently unemployment is relatively low, at only 3.2 per cent of the total labour force.
The graph shows the national unemployment rate from 1980 to 2008. As it illustrates, the lowest unemployment rate throughout this period occurred in 1996, and the highest in 1998.
The big spike in unemployment in 1997 was caused by the Asian financial crisis. Before then, the Korean labour market was near full employment status, with unemployment running at less than 3 per cent. Huge lay-offs to reduce labour costs followed the crisis. The Korean labour market faced a record high unemployment rate of 7 per cent in 1998 and 6.3 per cent in 1999 for the first time since 1960s.