Employment rate returns to 80% of pre-pandemic levels, minister says

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South Korea’s labor market recovery gained momentum as more than 600,000 jobs were added to the economy in May, exceeding that mark for the second month in a row, government data showed on Wednesday.

Statistics Korea revealed that the number of people employed reached 27.6 million last month, 619,000 more than a year earlier, as Asia’s fourth-largest economy continues to recover from the downturn caused by the virus . The base effect of severe job losses last year has boosted growth this year.

The upward trend in employment began in March, after a year-long streak of job losses that began in March last year. In April, the country recorded the strongest job growth in nearly seven years, adding 652,000 more jobs than a year earlier.

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said more than 80% of jobs have been restored compared to February last year, just before the COVID-19 outbreak ravaged the economy.

“After last month, the number of people in employment continued to grow by over 600,000 in May. This raises expectations for future employment recovery, ”he said.

The hiring rate for those aged 15 and over stood at 61.2 percent, up 1 percentage point, as the rate for young Koreans aged 15 to 29 jumped to 44.4 percent, the highest figure May high since 45.5% in May 2005.

However, people in their 30s and 40s lost 69,000 jobs and 6,000 jobs, respectively.

Driven by export growth, the manufacturing sector continued to add jobs in May with 19,000 jobs, but the service sector struggled to hire new employees.

“The employment situation remains difficult for wholesale and retail trade and the self-employed, who are undergoing changes in the structure of employment such as the expansion of distance distribution. Measures for jobs for the vulnerable class to employment like women are important political tasks that must be dealt with immediately, ”said Hong.

The wholesale and retail sector reported a drop of 136,000 jobs in May, down from 182,000 the previous month. The accommodation and food services segment reported job additions for the second consecutive month, with a year-over-year gain of 4,000 jobs last month.

By Park Han-na ([email protected])


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