State benefit to subsidize living expenses for people between jobs hit an all-time high of 625.6 billion won ($557.2 million) in January in South Korea amid worsening job situation.
According to data released by the Ministry of Employment and Labor on Sunday, the Korean government in January paid out 625.6 billion won to 466,000 people who lost jobs against their will. Both the payout sum and the number of recipients jumped by double digits from the same month last year – 38.8 percent and 15.1 percent, respectively – to hit record-highs.
The jobseeker’s allowance is a type of unemployment benefits paid out by the Korean government to support those who were involuntarily dismissed from work. It is given to help them cover minimum costs of living while searching for a new job.
In January, the number of fresh applicants for the jobseeker’s allowance grew 12.7 percent to a record high of 171,000 from a year ago period. The number of those who lost employment insurance benefits, which includes both voluntary and involuntary unemployment, also hit a historic high of 903,000 in January, up 5.3 percent from a year earlier.
The labor ministry attributed the jump in unemployment benefit payment to the rise in the number of applicants and increase in minimum wage that pushed up the base level. The hourly minimum wage rose 10.9 percent in Korea in January to 8,350 won after a 16.4 percent hike a year ago.
A labor ministry official also noted that a higher number of people tend to leave their job in January after receiving year-end bonus but did not deny job-related data deteriorated compared to a year earlier.
The country’s job market condition has continued to worsen at an alarming pace. It added only 97,000 jobs last year against a year ago period, marking the smallest gain since 2009 when 87,000 jobs were lost in the wake of a global financial crisis.
By Choi Hee-seok and Cho Jeehyun
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]