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Record 11.85 tln won paid in unemployment benefits in 2020 amid pandemic

All News 12:00 January 11, 2021

SEOUL, Jan. 11 (Yonhap) -- A record 11.85 trillion won (US$10.79 billion) was paid in unemployment benefits last year amid the business challenges of COVID-19, government data showed Monday.

According to the Ministry of Employment and Labor, the government paid more than 956 billion won in job-seeking benefits in December, bringing the yearly total to 11.85 trillion won.

People apply for unemployment benefits at an employment office in Seoul on Dec. 16, 2020. (Yonhap)

Job-seeking benefits are meant to help the unemployed find jobs, and are commonly known as unemployment benefits because they account for most of the unemployment benefits.

The previous high was set in 2019, when the government paid 8.09 trillion won in unemployment benefits.

The ministry in part attributed last year's increase to an extension of the payment period that kicked in October 2019.

Last month saw 108,000 new applicants for job-seeking benefits, up 12,000, or 12.5 percent, from December 2019.

There were a total of 600,000 recipients, an increase of 181,000 (43.2 percent) from the same month in 2019.

Meanwhile, the number of people covered by state employment insurance rose by 239,000 (1.7 percent) to 14.08 million.

The monthly additions dropped sharply to 155,000 in May when the impact of the coronavirus pandemic began to be felt in earnest.

The numbers rose to the 300,000 level in the three months beginning in September but fell back to the 200,000 level in December.

The slowdown was attributed in part to a decrease in subscribers in the public administration sector due to the termination of government-created job projects at the end of the year.

The hospitality sector, which was hit hard during the country's recent third wave of the pandemic, also posted 34,000 fewer subscriptions in December, widening the scope of decrease.

hague@yna.co.kr
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