File photo: VCG
SEOUL, April 17 (Xinhua) -- South Korea recorded the first employment fall in 10 years last month as the COVID-19 outbreak led companies, especially small firms and microbusiness owners, to reduce or lay off employees, statistical office data showed Friday.
The number of those employed totaled 26,609,000 in March, down 195,000 from a year earlier, according to Statistics Korea. It was the first decline in over 10 years since January 2010.
It was the biggest reduction since the number of jobs tumbled 240,000 in May 2009 amid the negative effect from the global financial crisis.
The services industry was hit hardest as the coronavirus pandemic encouraged people to stay at home and avoid shopping and traveling.
Employment in the wholesale and retail sector dropped 168,000 in March from a year ago, marking the biggest fall since January 2014.
The lodging and eatery industry saw the number of jobs slide 109,000 last month, turning downward in 14 months.
The number of jobs in the education services sector slipped 100,000 in the month as schools delayed semester and reopened in April only with online classes.
Employment among manufacturers turned downward in three months, while those for the health and social welfare services, and the transportation and warehouse sectors increased last month.
The number of irregular workers plunged 195,000 in March from a year earlier, logging the biggest slide in over 21 years since the reading plummeted 447,000 in December 1998 in the aftermath of the foreign exchange crisis.
Regular workers advanced 459,000 in the month, but daily employees contracted 173,000.
The number of those who took a leave of absence, included in the number of those employed, soared to 1,607,000 in March from 1,260,000 a year earlier. It was the biggest increase since relevant data began to be compiled in July 1983.
The hiring rate among those aged 15 or higher shrank 0.9 percentage points over the year to 59.5 percent in March. The OECD-method employment rate for those aged 15-64 fell 0.8 percentage points to 65.4 percent.
The employment rate among those in their 60s or higher rose 0.8 percentage points, but the rates of the other age groups declined last month.
The employment rate gauges the percentage of working people to the working-age population, or those aged 15 or above. Amid the aging population, it is used as an alternative to show the labor market conditions more precisely.
Jobless rate fell 0.1 percentage point over the year to 4.2 percent in March. The number of those unemployed was 1,180,000 in March, down 17,000 from the same month of last year.
The lower unemployment rate came as companies put off recruitment schedules on the fear of COVID-19 infections, reducing the number of job-seekers.
The so-called expanded jobless rate, which reflects labor market conditions more accurately, gained 1.8 percentage points over the year to 14.4 percent in March.
The expanded unemployment rate for youths aged 15-29 went up 1.5 percentage points to 26.6 percent last month.
The official unemployment rate refers to those who are immediately available for work but fail to get a job for the past four weeks despite efforts to actively seek a job.
The expanded jobless rate adds those who are discouraged from searching a job, those who work part-time against their will to work full-time and those who prepare to get a job after college graduation, to the official jobless rate.
The number of economically inactive population advanced 516,000 over the year to 16,923,000 last month, marking the biggest increase in over 10 years since May 2009.
The so-called "take-a-rest" group, which replied that they took a rest during a job survey period, expanded 366,000 in the month. It is considered important as the group can include those who are unemployed or too discouraged to search for work for an extended period of time.
Discouraged job-seekers, who gave up efforts to seek a job because of the worsened labor market conditions, grew 44,000 over the year to 582,000 in March. Enditem