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Jobless claims top W1tr for first time in May

June 8, 2020 - 15:02 By Ko Jun-tae
South Korea’s monthly unemployment allowance payments jumped 34 percent on-year to an all-time high of 1.016 trillion won ($849 million) in May, as the novel coronavirus outbreak continues to take its toll on jobs, government data showed.

According to data released by the Labor Ministry on Monday, employment insurance payouts to those struggling to find a job totaled 1.016 trillion won last month, up 33.9 percent from a year earlier.

It was the first time the monthly job search allowance, which accounts for most of the jobless benefits here, surpassed 1 trillion won since the national employment insurance program was introduced in 1995.

The monthly figure also extended its a record-breaking streak for the fourth consecutive month, hitting marks of 781.9 billion in February, 898.2 billion won in March and 993.8 billion in April, respectively.

“We believe this trend is likely to be maintained for quite some time,” Kwon Ki-sub, an employment policy official at the Labor Ministry, told a press briefing. “The COVID-19 outbreak brought an unprecedented situation to the global economy, and from February to May a lot of related effects are unfolding in our labor market.”

The May data also shows that while jobless claim applicants hit a new high of 678,000, up 34.8 percent from the same month last year, the biggest increases were seen in those in their 20s and 50s.

The number of those who have newly applied for the benefits came in at 111,000, which was again nearly 32 percent bigger than the level seen a year earlier. 

The ministry added the coronavirus outbreak also negatively impacted the number of those newly subscribing to the employment insurance.

As of the end of last month, a total of 13.82 million people were covered by the state-run employment insurance, up 1.1 percent, or 155,000, from the same month last year. That on-year gain of 155,000 represents a continued downward trend from 163,000 new subscribers in April, 253,000 in March and 376,000 in February.

By Ko Jun-tae (