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Unemployed foreigners hit record high

Foreign workers (Yonhap)
Foreign workers (Yonhap)
South Korea saw a record number of unemployed foreign nationals this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, mostly because fewer foreigners entered the country and temporary and manual jobs were lost, government data showed Monday.

The number of unemployed foreign nationals was 69,500 as of May, up 38.2 percent from the previous year, marking the biggest on-year jump. The figure is the highest since relevant data began to be compiled in 2012, according to Statistics Korea. The unemployment rate of foreign nationals rose to 7.6 percent, compared to 5.5 percent in the previous year.

In Korea, there are an estimated 1.33 million foreign nationals aged 15 or over and an economically active population of some 917,000. Among them, 848,000 foreign nationals were on payrolls, 15,000 fewer from the previous year. The employment rate was 63.7 percent, down 1.6 percent from a year earlier.

The drop in the number of foreign workers is largely attributed to a restricted inflow of foreign workers into the country and job losses in hospital and construction sectors, which highly rely on foreign workforces, according to Jung Dong-wook, an official from Statistics Korea.

Korea saw a significant fall in the number of foreigners -- including unskilled workers -- after the country toughened entry requirements and made it mandatory for all arrivals to self-quarantine for 14 days.

According to the data, there were 40,000 fewer workers on the H-2 visa, dropping by 20 percent from a year earlier, and 9,000 fewer workers on the E-9 visa, decreasing by 3.5 percent.

By Ock Hyun-ju (