Jobs shrink for sixth consecutive month
The number of people with jobs shrunk for the sixth consecutive month, with 274,000 jobs lost in August compared to a year earlier.
Covid-19 was only one factor. Korea's longest rainy season on record was another.
September figures could be worse as the effect of stricter social distancing regulations due to the resurgence of Covid-19 is felt, along with two typhoons that hit the Peninsula back-to-back.
According to Statistics Korea on Wednesday, 27.08 million people had jobs in August, a decline of 274,000 compared to a year ago.
It has been Korea's longest stretch of job losses in more than a decade.
The longest record of consecutive monthly job losses was in 2009, when the total number of people employed shrunk for eight consecutive months between January and August.
“As in July, August was affected by Covid-19 and the long heavy rainy season,” said Chung Dong-wook, Statistics Korea’s director of employment statistics.
Services were hit hardest.
The wholesales and retail sector saw 176,000 lost jobs, while lodgings and restaurants lost 169,000. The education industry saw the number of people employed shrink 89,000.
Manufacturing saw 50,000 people losing their jobs.
Agriculture and fisheries saw 3,000 fewer people employed, largely due to the heavy rains.
Areas that saw increases in jobs included health and social welfare, which includes government jobs given to senior citizens. The health and social welfare sector saw 160,000 new hires.
The logistics and storage industry saw 56,000 more hires, largely thanks to the social distancing regulations that boosted online shopping and deliveries.
By age group, the only bracket that saw positive growth were people 60 years old or older.
That bracket gained 384,000 jobs in August.
For workers between the ages of 15 and 29, some 172,000 were lost. For workers in their 30s, some 23,000 jobs vanished. Workers in their 40s lost 182,000 jobs; in their 50s, 74,000.
The latest statistics showed that the impact of the virus and rainy season was hardest on those with less job security.
The number of employees hired on contracts when compared to a year ago was 318,000 fewer, while jobs for day-workers shrunk by 78,000.
However, in the category of salaried workers, there was an increase of 282,000.
The number of workers taking temporary breaks increased 143,000 from a year ago to total 846,000.
Self-employed businesses were also hit hard by the ongoing pandemic.
Self-employed businesses with employees saw jobs shrink 172,000. Self-employed businesses without employees saw jobs grow by 66,000 when compared to a year ago, indicating that many businesses are letting employees go.
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki raised concerns about September’s job report.
“The job indexes that were reported today were the results of the job situation before social distancing measures were raised in the greater Seoul area,” Hong said on Facebook.
“My heart is already heavy with the thought of the additional impact [of the toughened measures],” Hong said. “We will submit a fourth supplementary budget within this week at the National Assembly that is strongly centered on the vulnerable class and those that are affected the most.”
The government and ruling Democratic Party on Sunday agreed on a 7-trillion-won ($5.9-billion) supplementary budget. So far this year, the government has created three supplementary budgets amounting to a total of 59 trillion won.
BY LEE HO-JEONG [firstname.lastname@example.org]