Brunt of job losses felt by married women

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Brunt of job losses felt by married women

People look at a bulletin board at a job center in Mapo District, western Seoul on Jan. 13. Due to Covid-19, job losses last year were the largest since the Asian economic crisis of the 1990s. [YONHAP]

People look at a bulletin board at a job center in Mapo District, western Seoul on Jan. 13. Due to Covid-19, job losses last year were the largest since the Asian economic crisis of the 1990s. [YONHAP]

 
The coronavirus pandemic took a greater toll on jobs for women, especially if they were married.
  
In past economic crises, the jobs that were lost were mostly held by men, according to a report released by the Bank of Korea Thursday.  
 
The employment rate for women workers fell by 5.4 percent in January, compared to February 2020, before the spread of the coronavirus. Over the same period, the employment rate for men workers declined by 2.4 percent.  
 
In past crises, the employment rate for men declined more than for women, by a margin of 1.5 percentage points during the 1997 Asian financial crisis and 0.3 percentage points during the 2008 global financial meltdown, the report said.
 
“Normally, male-dominant sectors like construction and manufacturing tend to move in line with global economies,” said Oh Sam-il, a senior economist on the central bank’s labor market research team. “In economic downturns, employment in those sectors were predominantly affected.”  
 
During the latest crisis, however, jobs held by women were affected because women dominate certain service sectors and education. Women workers were also forced to take care of children at home as schools shut down, the report said.  
 
According to the report, married women lost the most jobs during the pandemic. 
 
The number of married female workers between the ages 30 and 45 plunged by nearly 10 percent in April 2020 compared to February, and hadn't recovered to pre-pandemic level as of March. The number of unmarried female workers declined by some 6 percent in April 2020, but then recovered to pre-pandemic levels in six months.
 
The report said Covid-19 partly contributed to increasing male workers’ participation in taking care of children at home, which could lead to improved working conditions for female workers in the long run.  
 
In 2020, workers going on paternity leave increased by 23 percent. Male workers applying for working hour reductions for the sake of childcare, a system protected by labor law, increased by a whopping 120.9 percent.  
 
“This shared responsibility in childcare is expected to boost women’s employment rate in the long run,” the central bank report said.  
 
The report also said increased acceptance of working-at-home could improve women workers’ working conditions.  
 
The report, however, said that continued employment risks from the pandemic could result in industries employing robots for simple tasks rather than human workers.  
 
BY KIM JEE-HEE   [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]
 
 
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