SEOUL, Rival parties gave mixed assessments of the September job data, with the ruling party looking relieved at employment conditions not being the worst while the opposition blamed policy failures for still sluggish growth.

South Korea's jobless rate rose in September, but the number of new jobs improved after staying below 10,000 for two consecutive months, according to government data.

The number of employed people reached 27.05 million in September, up 45,000 from a year earlier. In August, the number of such people rose a meager 3,000 from the year before. Before the data was released, there were concerns that job creation might contract.

"There have been many concerns, but the job market appeared to avoid the worst situation," Lee Hae-chan, chief of the ruling Democratic Party (DP), told a meeting with senior party members.

"As the economic situation is not good, there should be close communication and consultation between the ruling party and the government to create jobs in a sustainable manner," he added.

Hong Young-pyo, the DP's floor leader, expressed a similar view.

"The job data was not satisfactory, but compared with July and August, job creation seemed to improve somewhat," Hong said.

"The DP plans to draw up fundamental remedies to resolve the (structural) problem of the local job market," he said.

To this end, he pledged efforts to spur the job creation capacity of sluggish industrial sectors and improve the quality of employment.

But conservative opposition parties pointed out that the number of newly employed people had remained below 100,000 for the eighth straight month and called on the government to ditch its income-led growth policy.

"The job market is still in the doldrums. Jobs in the public sector have increased, but the employment situation in the private sector is chilly," the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) said.

"The income-driven growth policy and a steep hike in the minimum wage are to blame for the sluggish job market," the party said.

The minor opposition Bareunmirae Party (BP) raised questions about the effectiveness of the 54 trillion won (US$47.8 billion) the government ass spent on job creation.

"It's hard to say that the job market situation has improved, though it was a relief that job creation did not contract," it said. "If the government is relieved with the job data, there is no answer but the scrapping of the income-driven growth policy."

Source: Yonhap News Agency