Unemployment Among Immigrants Hits All-Time High

  • By Choi Jong-seok

    December 22, 2020 12:21

    The number of jobless foreigners in Korea hit a record of 70,000 as the coronavirus epidemic put many menial workers out of a job. According to Statistics Korea on Monday, a total of 848,000 foreigners worked here this year, down 1.8 percent or 15,000, from a year ago.

    The epidemic has dealt a harsh blow to the manufacturing, hospitality and construction industries, which employ many migrant workers. Their numbers dropped by 20,000 or five percent in mining and manufacturing and by 10,000 or 10 percent in construction.

    As of May this year, the number of jobless foreigners had risen by 19,000 or a whopping 38.2 percent, bringing their unemployment rate to 7.6 percent, up 2.1 percentage points on-year and 3.1 percentage points higher than the overall unemployment rate in the country.

    One in every three foreign workers or 32.5 percent earned less than W2 million per month (US$1=W1,104). Korean-Chinese worker were hit the hardest with some 32,000 struck off the payrolls.

    This means small and midsize businesses are in such dire straits that they have to lay off even foreign workers, who are typically cheaper than Korean staff.

    But the epidemic is not the only reason for the dwindling number of foreign employees because it already started shrinking last year when the minimum wage rose sharply. Last year some 21,000 foreign workers were laid off.

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