1 million jobs lost in January
Nearly one million jobs were lost in January, the largest number for a single month since the Asian economic crisis of the late 1990s.
The number of unemployed people jumped 36 percent to reach 1.57 million.
According to Statistics Korea on Wednesday, 25.8 million people were employed in January — a decline by 982,000, or 3.7 percent, from a year earlier.
This was the biggest number of people losing their jobs since December 1998's 1.28 million. Last December, 628,000 jobs were lost.
As of January, the number of people employed had shrunk for 11 consecutive months.
Covid-19 social distancing restrictions have had a devastating effect on small businesses that offer face-to-face services.
Among the 982,000 jobs that were lost, 91 percent, or 898,000, were in service industries. The restaurant and accommodation industry lost 367,000 jobs, the largest number and a 15.7-percent drop from a year earlier, while wholesale and retail businesses lost 218,000 jobs, down 6.1 percent.
Restaurants and accommodation businesses account for 7.6 percent of jobs in the country, while wholesale and retail account for 13 percent.
Even manufacturing, which accounts for the biggest percentage of jobs in the country, 17 percent, suffered from Covid-19 restrictions. Manufacturing lost 46,000 jobs, which was a decrease of 1 percent year-on-year.
The number of people working for self-employed businesspeople fell 158,000 in January compared to 138,000 in December and 115,000 in November.
The number of unemployed people in Korea amounted to 1.57 million in January, the largest since data began being compiled in its current form in June 1999. When compared to a year earlier, there were 417,000 more unemployed people, a 36.2-percent increase.
People giving up on finding work increased as well.
The economically inactive population last month totaled 17.58 million, an increase of 5.2 percent from a year earlier, and among those people, 775,000 said they had given up in seeking jobs, which was 233,000, or 43 percent more than a year ago.
All age groups saw jobs decline year-on-year, a contrast to past months when jobs for people 60 or older increased, largely thanks to government jobs created by the Moon Jae-in government.
It was the first decline for people in their 60s or older in more than a decade.
People in their 30s saw the biggest job losses at 273,000, followed by people in their 20s (255,000), in their 40s (210,000), in their 50s (170,000) and 60s or older (15,000). It was the first decline for the last group since February 2010.
On Facebook, Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said Covid-19 restrictions were the main contributor to the massive job losses.
“We solemnly recognize the severity of the current situation,” Hong wrote.
He said the government will quickly complete a third round of emergency relief grants.
According to the Ministry of SMEs and Startups on Wednesday, 97 percent of those emergency relief grants have been delivered to small shops.
Hong did not mention a fourth round of emergency relief grants, which the Democratic Party has been promoting.
BY LEE HO-JEONG [firstname.lastname@example.org]