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Job losses extend into July amid pandemic, unemployment rate up to 4%

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

South Korea lost about 277,000 jobs in July, marking a decline in the number of the employed for a fifth consecutive month, as the new coronavirus pandemic strained business activities, data showed Wednesday.

The country's jobless rate rose by 0.1 percentage point on-year to 4 percent in July, with the number of employed people falling to 27.1 million, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.

It marked the longest fall since the eight months of decline posted in 2009 amid the global financial crisis. The unemployment rate was also the highest for any July since 2000.

The unemployment rate for young adults -- those aged between 15 and 29 -- reached 9.7 percent, down 0.1 percentage point on-year.

"It is significant that jobs have been decreasing by a smaller margin since May," Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said on social media.

The heavy rainfall recently observed in the country, however, may have an adverse impact on recovery, he added.

South Korea's annual rainy season has continued for around 50 days, the longest on record. This month, the rain has left 33 people dead and nine others missing, and some 7,600 people have been displaced from their homes.

"It is also hurtful that the job figures for young adults remain weak, and that industries involving face-to-face interactions, such as restaurants and the accommodation sector, are still facing troubles," he added.

The coronavirus outbreak has hit temporary workers hard, with the number of those workers plunging by 395,000 in July, the data showed. Jobs for day laborers shed 44,000 over the period.

The total number of unemployed people here reached 1.13 million in July, up 41,000 on-year. It marked the highest rate since 1.47 million posted in the same month of 1999.

The increase in the number of unemployed people was mostly attributable to those aged 40 and above.

By industry, the accommodation and food service segment saw a decrease of 225,000 jobs last month, and the wholesale and retail sector lost 127,000 jobs.

"The decrease in the area came as people refrained from having gatherings or going outside due to the virus pandemic, along with the sharp tumble in the number of inbound tourists," said Chung Dong-myung, a senior official at Statistics Korea. 

In contrast, the social welfare sector gained 161,000 jobs in June, and the logistics industry added 58,000 jobs.

The employment rate for those aged between 15 and 64 reached 66 percent, down 1.1 percentage points on-year.

The number of economically active people decreased 236,000 to reach 28.2 million, while those inactive expanded by 502,000 to reach 16.5 million, the data showed.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been widely considered to have had a full-fledged impact on local job markets over the second half considering the time lag of one to two quarters of an economic crisis. (Yonhap)
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