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(2nd LD) Job growth slows in Aug. amid resurgence of COVID-19

All News 10:37 September 15, 2021

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in paras 8-9,11,22)
By Kim Soo-yeon

SEOUL, Sept. 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported job additions for the sixth straight month in August, but the growth pace slowed as employment at in-person service sectors was hit by the fourth wave of the pandemic, data showed Wednesday.

The number of employed people reached 27.6 million last month, 518,000 more than a year earlier, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.

The August additions were lower than an on-year increase of 542,000 the previous month.

The country has reported job growth since March amid an economic recovery and due to last year's low base effect.

But the job growth slowed for the fourth straight month in August as the latest flare-up in COVID-19 cases and the toughest-ever virus curbs dealt a blow to employment in face-to-face service segments.

South Korea has applied Level 4 social distancing rules, the highest in its four-tier scheme, in the greater capital area for about two months.

This file photo, taken July 19, 2021, shows a citizen looking at job information at an employment arrangement center in western Seoul. (Yonhap)

The statistics agency said the fourth wave of the pandemic dented jobs in the in-person service sector, but the country's job market still extended its recovery momentum.

"Despite stricter distancing rules, the number of employed people increased for the sixth straight month, supported by robust exports and the base effect," Jeong Dong-myeong, a senior official at Statistics Korea, told a press briefing.

He said the number of unemployed people and non-economically active people continued to decline in the latest sign that the job market is on a recovery track amid an economic rebound.

But job recovery remains uneven across sectors, with the face-to-face service segments, such as lodging and hospitality, reporting job slumps.

Still, the severity of job erosion in those sectors was smaller than that shown during previous waves of the pandemic, Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said.

The number of unemployed people came to 744,000 in August, down 120,000 from a year earlier, the data showed.

The country's jobless rate fell 0.5 percentage point on-year to 2.6 percent, the lowest for any August since 1999, when the agency began compiling related data.

The unemployment rate for young adults -- those aged between 15 and 29 -- declined 1.9 percentage points on-year to 5.8 percent.

Except for people in their 30s, all age groups reported job additions. The number of employed people in their 30s fell 88,000 on-year, marking the 18th consecutive month of decline.

The number of non-economically active people, those who have no willingness to work, declined for the sixth straight month. The number of such people fell 106,000 on-year to 16.8 million last month.

This file photo, taken July 29, 2021, shows a nearly empty street in the shopping district of Myeongdong in central Seoul. (Yonhap)

The service sector reported severe job erosion in August amid the toughest distancing rules.

The wholesale and retail sector reported a fall of 113,000 jobs in August, fewer than a decline of 186,000 the previous month.

The accommodation and food service segment reported job losses for the second straight month, with an on-year fall of 38,000 jobs. The arts, sports and leisure segment saw jobs decline 43,000 on-year.

The manufacturing sector, a backbone of the country's economy, reported an on-year fall of 76,000 jobs last month.

The number of permanent workers grew 324,000 on-year in August, and that of temporary workers rose 312,000. But jobs for day laborers fell 89,000 on-year.

The number of the self-employed who have hired workers declined 61,000 on-year to 1.3 million, the lowest for any August in 31 years. It also marked the 33rd straight month of an on-year fall.

The finance ministry raised its 2021 growth outlook for the Korean economy to 4.2 percent from its earlier estimate of 3.2 percent. The Bank of Korea (BOK) forecast economic growth of 4 percent.

In August, the BOK forecast the number of employed people to increase 200,000 this year, up from its May estimate of 140,000. Next year, the number of working people is expected to rise 240,000.

Last year, the number of hired people in South Korea declined by 220,000, the largest job loss since 1998.


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