SEJONG-- The number of young people who left their jobs due to involuntary reasons reached a fresh record high in May amid the tightened job market, government data showed Sunday.

A total of 372,000 employees aged between 15 and 29 lost their jobs as of end-May on occasions like contract expiration or the companies they worked for closing down, according to the data by Statistics Korea.

The May figure marked the highest monthly figure since 2004 when the statistics office started to compile such data.

Such involuntary young job losses has been on a steady rise since 2012 when it hit 278,000. It peaked at 334,000 in 2016 and is expected to set a new record high by the end of this year.

"People quit their jobs as they were asked to leave the company which can be seen as involuntary job losses," said an official from Statistics Korea. "Such cases are largely affected by economic ups and downs."

South Korea's jobless rate for young people has hovered around 10 percent for months as a protracted economic slump made companies reluctant to hire unskilled new faces, while the country's overall unemployment rate remained at some 4 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency