May 06, 2020 12:29
Middle-aged women in low-paid menial jobs have been hit the hardest by the fallout of the coronavirus epidemic.
Small restaurants and food stalls across the country have laid off kitchen and serving staff, while many households have terminated contracts with maids due to fears of infection, and these jobs are predominantly done by women in their 50s and 60s.
Employment data released by Statistics Korea show a sharp decline in part-time jobs in the service sector that are largely staffed by women in March. In wholesale and retail, 168,000 jobs disappeared, and in hospitality another 109,000.
Middle-aged women who lost their jobs are having a tough time finding new work. Day labor broker Kim Doo-il said, "Men can find steady jobs as delivery workers or on construction sites, but there are hardly any options left for women."
A temp office in Gangnam is crowded with many older women every morning. Around a dozen were gathered there on Monday morning, but the phone did not ring even once until noon. The head of the office said, "I thought the job situation would improve a bit over the long weekend, but everybody must have headed out of town and we got no phone calls."
"I feel quite sad, because they insist on waiting in front of the office even though I tell them to go home," she added.
Some women look for traditional men's jobs on building sites. One 60-year-old woman who used to make W500,000 a month helping blind kids to and from school found a job at a construction site. "Schools are closed, so I had to find work to make ends meet," she said. "Every time a big truck comes in it gives me a start, but I was lucky to find even this job."
Another job broker said, "Many women ask about job openings on construction sites, but jobs for women are extremely scarce."
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