Part-time jobs vanish due to fear of MERS

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Part-time jobs vanish due to fear of MERS

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Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) has slashed demand for part-time jobs in the services sector, particularly in the hospitality and restaurant businesses, data compiled by Alba Cheonguk, a major part-time job portal, showed on Monday.

New services sector part-time job openings posted on Alba Cheonguk fell 10.7 percent during May 28 to June 10, compared with May 14 to 27 period, the data showed.

This contrasted with an overall 3 percent increase in new job postings during same period.

The tourism industry was the hardest hit, with its number of new jobs declining nearly 28 percent as scores of group tours by schools and foreign tourists were cancelled because of MERS.

Thousands of schools have temporarily closed amid fear of the infection among children and adolescents, while the number of foreign tourists cancelling their trips to Korea has topped 100,000.

Nearly 80 percent of foreign tourist cancellations were from China and nearby regions, according to Korea Tourism Organization data. Chinese tourists are key customers for Korean stores, touring companies and hospitality businesses.

Meanwhile jobs related to sports and recreational activities declined nearly 20 percent, while new jobs at buffet restaurants and other event venues fell 8.3 percent.

Jobs at movie theaters, performing arts centers and art galleries also declined 5.3 percent, while those at ticket booths and information desks saw a 3.2 percent decline, pointing to overall slack in demand for new employees in the service sector.

As of Monday, there were 150 confirmed cases of MERS, while over 5,000 people have been quarantined.

MERS has not only prompted cancellations of foreign tourists’ trips to Korea, but also a lot of local events, performances, and even college information sessions that were scheduled.

“Lots of events, tours and meetings are being cancelled, and so is demand for staff who would otherwise have been necessary for these functions,” said Choi In-nyung, the CEO of Alba Cheonguk.

“The slowdown in demand for new hires in the services sector is indicative of troubles the industry is facing,” she added.

MERS is widely expected to dent the country’s broader job market after the country reported a set of rosy figures. Just last week, Korea said the number of people with jobs was 26.2 million in May, up by 379,000 compared to a year before.

The biggest numbers of hires had come from hospitality and restaurant businesses thanks to robust inflow of foreign tourists in April and May.

Meanwhile scores of job expos, interviews and new-hire training sessions by major corporations are being cancelled.

Of six job fairs planned by the Gyeonggi Provincial Government in June, five have been cancelled as the expos were scheduled to be held near areas where confirmed MERS cases have been reported.

Major corporations like Samsung Group, Lotte Group and Hyundai Heavy Industries cancelled welcome events for new hires scheduled for this month.


BY PARK JUNG-YOUN [park.jungyoun@joongang.co.kr]
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