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Number of small firms rises 4.7% in 2020 despite pandemic

The logo of the Ministry of SMEs and Startups. (Yonhap)
The logo of the Ministry of SMEs and Startups. (Yonhap)
SEJONG -- The number of small companies in South Korea expanded nearly 5 percent in 2020 from a year earlier despite the pandemic, but their profit fell sharply, government data showed Tuesday.

The country had 2,902,000 companies with fewer than five workers as of the end of 2020, up 4.7 percent from a year earlier, according to the data from Statistics Korea and the Ministry of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and Startups.

The largest number of such companies were retailers and wholesalers with 915, followed by hotels and restaurants with 710, and manufacturers with 369.

The number of hotels and restaurants rose 7.5 percent on-year, with that of manufacturing firms increasing 3.7 percent.

Yet, the number of workers hired by those small firms shrank 13.5 percent on-year to 5,573,000 as of end-2020.

Art, sports and leisure firms posted a decrease of 20.5 percent in their combined workforce, with payrolls of retailers and wholesalers sinking 16.7 percent.

Average sales per company stood at 224 million won ($188,806) in 2020, down 4.5 percent from the previous year, with operating profit per firm plunging 43.1 percent to 19 million won.

Their debts totaled 294.4 trillion won last year, up a whopping 19.3 percent from the previoys year.

Small firms and merchants have taken the brunt of the COVID-19 outbreak in South Korea as tough social distancing rules have led to a sharp drop in customers and demand for their products. (Yonhap)
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