South Korea’s labour productivity fell in the first quarter of 2012 from a year earlier due to sluggish exports and weak domestic consumption, a government report showed Thursday.
According to the report by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, the labour productivity index for all industries in the January-March period fell 2.3 percent on-year to 104.6, compared to 107 tallied a year earlier.
The figure also decelerated from 107.2 reached in the fourth quarter of last year, it said.
Labour productivity, which excludes the farming and fishing sectors, is measured by dividing total industrial output with total labour input during a given period of time. The quarterly report showed labour input rising 5.1 percent, but industrial output gaining just 2.7 percent.
“The decline is the result of more people being hired but output being hurt by persistent eurozone woes and slower than expected growth in key trading partners such as the United States and China, which hurt the country’s exports,” the ministry said.
It added that overall economic uncertainties affected domestic consumption.
From January through March, outbound shipments reached $134.9 billion, a modest gain of 3 percent from a year earlier. In 2011, the country’s exports surged 19.3 percent on-year.
For the manufacturing sector, labour productivity edged up 1.7 percent on-year to 121.5 in the first quarter, while numbers for the service industry contracted 1.6 percent to 103.1.
The service sector, which is linked to domestic consumption, reported minus growth for industrial support, transportation and financial fields, offsetting gains in education and welfare.
The ministry said there is a pressing need to fuel export competitiveness among small and medium enterprises and to take additional measures to revive sagging private consumption.