August 24, 2020 13:10
The number of employed workers dwindled by nearly 60,000 in the first half of this year, the first such drop in a decade.
A total of 26.8 million people were in employment in the first six months, down 59,000 from a year earlier, according to the Korea Employment Information Service on Sunday.
In January and February employment increased on-year, but then the coronavirus epidemic hit and numbers dropped by 195,000 in March and 476,000 in April.
The decrease slowed in May by 392,000, June by 352,000, and July by 277,000, when the spread of the virus slowed.
The number of employed workers over 60, who are the main beneficiaries of the government's job-creation initiatives, increased by 388,000 and their employment rate by 1.2 percent in the first six months. But the numbers dropped among all other age groups, with young people hit hardest with a 1.8 percent fall.
That brings the unemployment rate to 4.3 percent, the same as last year, but only because those who are on unpaid leave and still formally on the payroll soared by 591,000 on-year, giving rise to a statistical illusion.
The government has handed out employment subsidies worth more than W1 trillion to marginal businesses since early this year so that they can keep their workers (US$1=W1,190).
A KEIS official said, "The employment issue will become more serious if those on the temporary leave eventually get laid off if the epidemic drags on."
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