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SEJONG, May 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea aims to create 1.56 million jobs in the public sector, Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said Thursday, as the nation's economy suffered its sharpest job losses in 21 years over the coronavirus pandemic.
Hong said the government will soon draw up plans to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on the job market.
About 1 million jobs in the public sector have not been opened due to social distancing rules, but the government will soon open such jobs by easing some rules, Hong said.
The government will also encourage public firms to create some 550,000 jobs for young people, Hong said.
On Wednesday, South Korea reported the sharpest drop in its April employment since 1999 as the coronavirus pandemic hammered job markets.
The number of employed people in South Korea stood at 26.56 million in April, 476,000 people fewer than a year ago, marking the biggest on-year decline since February 1999.
The labor force participation rate, which refers to the percentage of those who are aged 15 or older and remain in the labor force by either being employed or actively looking for jobs, also fell 1.6 percentage points to 62 percent in April, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.
It also marked the sharpest decline since 2000, when the nation's job markets were crippled in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.
With companies slashing hiring and the virus cutting social activities, economists say the worst has yet to come, heightening the urgency of the government's efforts to project jobs.
Hong said job losses in the service sector showed signs of spreading to the manufacturing sector in April, though temporary workers were the hardest hit.
The government will also push for a safety net for temporary and freelance workers, Hong said.
South Korea has promised relief packages worth some 240 trillion won (US$197.2 billion) to ease the economic fallout from the virus.
The nation's economy shrank 1.4 percent on-quarter in the first quarter of the year, marking the sharpest quarterly contraction since the last three months of 2008.
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