State subsidy for jobless South Koreans hit an all-time high last year due to the surge in job losses amid Covid-19 fallout.
The Korean government doled out 11.85 trillion won ($10.8 billion) in job search allowances in 2020, breaking the previous record of 8.09 trillion won in 2019 by almost 50 percent, according to the data from the Ministry of Employment and Labor on Monday. In December alone, the payout reached 956.6 billion won.
Job search allowance is a type of unemployment benefits paid out by the government to support those who lose employment insurance benefits due to unemployment. Those who are not covered by state-run employment insurance including self-employed and freelancers are not entitle to the benefits.
The ministry attributed the sharp increase to the massive job losses amid the Covid-19 outbreak and the government’s expansion of employment insurance coverage.
The number of fresh applicants for the job seeking allowances in December grew 12.5 percent from the same month a year ago to 108,000. The number of recipients surged 181,000 or 43.2 percent to 600,000.
The number of people covered by the employment insurance reached 14.08 million, up 239,000 or 1.7 percent from a year earlier.
The monthly gain had stayed above 300,000 from September to November, but fell below the level last month.
The number of workers covered by the employment insurance in the manufacturing industry, the backbone of the Korean economy, edged down 0.6 percent from a year ago to 3.55 million last month. The number has decreased for 16 straight months since September 2019, but the monthly drop has slowed down since July last year.
The number of service sector workers subscribed to the state insurance rose 2.6 percent on year to 9.67 million in December. The number for the hospitality and restaurant industry, one of the hardest-hit sectors by the virus outbreak, fell sharply by 34,000.
On the other hand, the non-store retail industry added 21,000 more to the number of state-insured workers on booming demand for online shopping.
By age, the number of state-insured workers aged 60 or above increased 171,000, those in their 50s 97,000 and 40s 24,000. But the number for those in their 30s shrank 56,000 and those aged under 29 added only 2,000, implying the severe job shortages for young people.
By Choi Mira
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]