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[News Focus] Gwangju, Jeolla lead surge in payouts for jobless women

In nearly all regions, figures increased faster for women than men

By Kim Yon-se

Published : June 6, 2021 - 15:11

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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Yoo Eun-hae poses at an event in Seoul on May 31. The event focused on employment for young people at small and midsized enterprises, and behind Yoo is a message of encouragement for young job seekers. (Yonhap) Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Yoo Eun-hae poses at an event in Seoul on May 31. The event focused on employment for young people at small and midsized enterprises, and behind Yoo is a message of encouragement for young job seekers. (Yonhap)

SEJONG -- Women in South Korea have been hit harder by the pandemic than their male counterparts in terms of job security, labor-related government data suggested.

The data indicated that women in the nation’s Honam region -- Gwangju and North and South Jeolla provinces -- suffered the hardest hit.

According to the Korea Employment Information Service, payouts of unemployment benefits grew at a faster pace among women than men in most cities and provinces across the nation. The only exceptions were Ulsan and Gangwon Province.

In Seoul, the number of men receiving unemployment benefits recorded 64,339 in April 2021, up 62.3 percent from 39,633 in December 2019. The first case of COVID-19 was reported here in January 2020.

In contrast, the increase amounted to 88.2 percent for women during the same time frame, with the tally of recipients increasing from 40,851 women to 76,915 women.

The corresponding figures were 62.4 percent among men vs. 78.1 percent among women in Gyeonggi Province, and 68.4 percent among men vs. 96.6 percent among women in Sejong.

The data showed that unemployment benefits paid out to women posted higher growth in 14 of the nation’s 16 major cities and provinces. Jeju Province was not included in the comparison of gender gap, while the number of nation’s major administrative regions is 17.

The three areas where the figures increased the most over the December 2019-April 2021 period were South Jeolla Province, which saw 104.7 percent growth in unemployment benefits paid out to women, North Jeolla Province (101.7 percent) and Gwangju (98 percent).

Sejong ranked fourth with 96.6 percent growth, followed by Gangwon Province with 93.5 percent, Daejeon with 91.8 percent, Ulsan with 91.5 percent and Seoul with 88.2 percent.

Next on the list were South Gyeongsang Province with 86.8 percent, South Chungcheong Province with 86.1 percent, North Chungcheong Province with 83.5 percent, Daegu with 81.5 percent and North Gyeongsang Province with 80.8 percent.

It is thought that women in nonregular jobs -- including those working at restaurants, discount chains, convenience stores or coffee shops -- experienced mass layoffs as a result of the pandemic, a labor researcher in Seoul said.

Meanwhile, research from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development showed that Korea lagged behind major economies in its employment performance last year.

Korea’s employment rate for its “prime” working-age population -- those aged between 25 and 54 -- was 74.9 percent in 2020.

The nation ranked No. 29 out of 36 OECD members in a comparison of employment figures for the corresponding age group from the Paris-based organization. Of the OECD’s 37 members, only the UK was not included in the research.

This contrasted with the situation in Japan, where the employment rate for the same age group was 85.5 percent, placing it No. 4 in the comparison.

Also among the top 10 were Slovenia at 88.1 percent (No. 1), Switzerland at 87 percent, the Netherlands at 85 percent, Sweden and Germany at 85 percent, Iceland at 84.6 percent and Portugal at 84.2 percent.

Other members that came out ahead of Korea were Poland at 83.3 percent, Estonia at 83 percent, Hungary at 82.9 percent, Latvia at 82.1 percent and Slovakia at 80.5 percent.

The 2020 employment rate for the prime working-age population was 79.8 percent on average for the 27-member European Union. The OECD average posted 76.1 percent.

By Kim Yon-se (kys@heraldcorp.com)