Unemployment Benefit Payouts Surge

  • By Gwak Rae-geon

    January 14, 2020 14:09

    Unemployment benefit payouts surpassed W8 trillion last year for the first time (US$1=W1,157).

    The Ministry of Employment and Labor said Monday that payouts last year totaled W8.9 trillion, up a whopping quarter or 25.4 percent from a year earlier.

    Some 1.44 million people received unemployment benefits, up nine percent. One reason for the surge was the deteriorating job market. Unemployment surpassed 1 million in 18 months between January 2018 to October 2019.

    The biggest sufferers were people in their prime working years of their 30s and 40s, primarily in manufacturing. The number of jobless people in search of work -- who are the only ones who qualify for the benefits -- continues to swell.

    The government's drastic minimum-wage hike in 2018 and 2019 played a major role in causing unemployment to rise.

    But the other reason was increased allowances, which prompted some people to take advantage of the scheme, which is designed to help people bridge the gap from one job to another.

    In December last year, 96,000 people newly signed on for benefits, up 15.7 percent compared to the same period of 2018, partly because the government in October last year boosted the amount paid to the unemployed from 50 to 60 percent of the last wages a worker received before losing their job. The payment period was also increased from up to 240 to 270 days, depending on how long they had been working.

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