South Korea added 400,000 jobs for the third straight month and the employment rate hit a record high in February as the sprawling spread of the new coronavirus bumped up healthcare and delivery hires.
The Statistics Korea reported Wednesday that the number of employed totaled 26,838,000 in February after adding 492,000 new jobs from a year earlier. It is the third consecutive month with payroll gains in more than 400,000, although slowed from 568,000 additions in January.
The virus outbreak had mixed impact. Healthcare and social services led the growth with 202,000 new hires. Delivery and warehouse service sector added 99,000 jobs while agriculture/forestry/fishery rose by 80,000. In contrast, retail/wholesale shed 106,000 jobs, telecom service 25,000 and miscellaneous personal service 23,000.
“The coronavirus outbreak is starting to show its impact on the job market,” said Eun Soon-hyun, a Statistics Korea Official. The restaurant and hospitality sector added 14,000 jobs but the growth slowed sharply compared to the recent months due to a plunge in foreign visitors to the country after COVID-19 outbreak. Meanwhile, shipping and warehouse sector saw a sharp growth on jump in delivery orders and online shopping as people keep social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus, said Eun.
Manufacturing, which snapped its 22-month losing streak in January, managed to extend growth momentum by adding 34,000 positions.
The number of full-time hires increased 616,000, while day laborers and temporary workers fell 107,000 and 13,000, respectively. The number of self-employed with paid workers decreased 145,000 while self-employers with no paid hires rose 149,000.
Most of the new hires, however, worked less than 36 hours a week, accounting for 562,000 jobs. Longer-hour jobs were lost by 212,000.
The number of workers on temporary leave grew by 142,000 from a year earlier to mark a 29.8 percent jump as government hires of seniors were suspended during virus spread and workers were forced to go on a leave as cost-saving measures.
The February employment rate for aged 15 or older came at 60.0 percent, the highest for the month since 1982 when the data compiling began. The employment rate for the 15 to 64-year-old age group – the standard of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development – was 66.3 percent, the highest since 1989.
The employment rate rose in all age groups except for 40s and 20s, which fell 0.5 percentage point and 0.8 percentage point, respectively, on year. It was the 25th straight month for the figure for 40s to slip.
The youth employment rate for aged from 15 to 29 was 42.9 percent, the same as a year earlier.
The jobless rate slowed 0.6 percentage point to 4.1 percent from a year earlier. The youth unemployment rate (aged 15 to 29) was down 0.5 percentage point on year to 9.0 percent.
The number of unemployed totaled 1,153,000 in February, down 150,000 from a year earlier.
By Cho Jeehyun
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]