Korea's overall employment has improved steadily since the global financial crisis, but youth unemployment is still worse.
The main reason is a failure by big manufacturers to create jobs while the young working population has increased.
The Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade said in a report on Sunday that the employment rate among people in their 20s stood at 57.8 percent from January to October last year, which is 0.6 percentage point lower than in 2009 in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.
The employment rate is calculated by dividing the economically active population by the number of employed people.
Overall employment rate recovered from 63 percent in 2009 to 66.7 percent in 2017, but the report said growing youth unemployment stems from a weakening economy leading to fewer new jobs compounded by a surge of people in their 20s into the job market.
People now in their 20s are children of the baby-boomer generation who felt emboldened to have children themselves. KIET said youth unemployment will get worse for the next few years as more children of baby boomers are expected to graduate and enter the job market.
In 2018, the economically active population in their 20s increased by 266,000 from 6.7 million in 2013.
The employment rate among people in their 50s recovered at the fastest rate, from 70.2 percent in 2009 to 75.1 percent last year, and the rate among people in their 30s and 40s also rose 4.3 and 1.4 percentage points.
A graduate looks at a job bulletin board at Sangmyung University in Seoul.