Korean Economy News
Korea’s jobless rate hits record high for May as losing streak stretches to 3rd month

[Photo by Lee Seung-hwan]

[Photo by Lee Seung-hwan]

South Korea’s unemployment rate hit an all-time for May as the country extended job losses for the third straight month under the virus outbreak.

The number of employed in May totaled 26.93 million, down 392,000 from the same month a year earlier, Statistics Korea said Wednesday.

The country shed 195,000 jobs in March and 476,000 in April, as the novel coronavirus outbreak snowballed into a full-fledged pandemic. The last time Korea saw a job contraction this long was in October 2009-January 2010 when the global economy was still reeling from a financial meltdown.

The jobless rate in May rose 0.5 percentage point to 4.5 percent, the highest May figure since records were kept from 1999. The number of unemployed climbed 133,000 to 1.28 million.

The employment rate for those aged 15 to 64, the standard of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, dipped 1.3 percentage points on year to 65.8 percent. The employment rate for youth aged 15 to 29 also fell 1.4 percentage points to 42.2 percent.

The economically active population totaled 28.21 million in May, down 259,000 from a year ago. As a result, the economically inactive population – those neither working nor actively seeking employment – gained 555,000 to 16.55 million.

Service sectors remained in the doldrums. Jobs in wholesale and retail slid by 189,000, restaurants and hospitality by 183,000, and education services by 70,000. Manufacturers cut 57,000 jobs.

Meanwhile, health and social welfare sectors added 131,000 jobs as public hires were added to fight the virus. Agricultural and fishery industries also gained 5,400 jobs and logistics and storage 50,000 amid surge in delivery demand.

“Jobs that require person-to-person contact continue to suffer. But the pace of unemployment in restaurant, accommodation and education services has slowed as the country started easing social distancing measures since early May,” Chung Dong-wook of Statistics Korea said.

By Kim Hyo-jin

[? Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]

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