South Korea's economic participation rate is expected to fall below the 60-percent mark this year for the first time since 1989 due to an aging population, data showed Monday.
The country's economic participation rate is anticipated to reach 59.3 percent this year, down 1.8 percentage points from 2012, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.
The economic participation rate refers to the portion of the population that is economically active, which includes those who are unemployed with a willingness to work, among people aged 15 years and above.
South Korea's economically active population is expected to reach 24.8 million in 2013, falling 2.2 percent from a year earlier, marking the first drop in 15 years, the data added.
Market watchers said the decline came as South Korea has became an aging society. Separate data showed that 39 percent of the population is expected to be over 60 by 2050, compared with the current 17 percent.
The country's aging index, the ratio of people aged 65 and over per 100 youths under 15 years old, is expected to reach 83.3 percent this year, skyrocketing from 14.2 percent tallied in 1985, the data added.
Meanwhile, South Korea's excessively high college entrance rate, which reached 71.3 percent last year, also added to the falling jobs data, as the youth population delayed their participation in the labor market.
"The government should make efforts in creating state-funded vocational schools to encourage youths to find jobs at a younger age," said Kim Jeung-kun, a researcher at the Samsung Economic Research Institute.