Unemployment Soars Amid Coronavirus Epidemic

  • By Jung Chul-hwan, Gwak Rae-geon, Choi Won-woo

    April 14, 2020 12:19

    Unemployment is soaring as the coronavirus epidemic devastates small businesses.

    The number of people applying for unemployment benefits in March surged 25 percent compared to the same month last year to 156,000, the Ministry of Employment and Labor said Monday, the biggest increase since March 2009 at the height of the global financial crisis.

    Jobless benefit claims totaled W898.2 billion, breaking the previous record of W781.9 billion set in February and up 40 percent compared to a year ago (US$1=W1,218).

    New employment also fell to the lowest level in 19 years, as only some 253,000 applied for employment insurance as they landed on new jobs, down 52 percent on-year.

    The real situation is probably even worse as the figure covers only 49 percent of the economically active population but not those who do not benefit from the insurance, like small-business owners, self-employed people, or part-timers.

    President Moon Jae-in said in a meeting of chief secretaries the same day, "The government will focus its resources on helping people to keep their jobs during the economic crisis."

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