SOUTH KOREA, 13 May 2020 – South Korea’s economy lost jobs for a second month in April as businesses slashed hiring to brace for the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The number of jobs fell by 476,000 from a year ago, data from the statistics office showed Wednesday. The unemployment rate held at 3.8%. Economists had forecast the rate rising to 4.1%.
A weakening labor market adds to growing challenges for South Korea’s economy. Exports are tumbling as overseas demand dwindles amid lockdowns for major trade partners.
South Korea’s early success in containing the outbreak raised hopes for a swift rebound in consumption that might support the services sector, but that optimism is fading after a resurgence of virus cases this month.
The economy, which shrank 1.4% last quarter, is expected contract more sharply during the April-June period. South Korea’s daily exports plunged 30% on average in the first ten days of this month, underscoring the impact of the worsening pandemic.
The government has pledged more than 240 trillion won ($196 billion) in spending to shield the economy from the virus. The focus has been on helping businesses survive and maintain their workers, while families have been given cash handouts to spend at smaller stores.
Job losses were the heaviest among part-time and temporary workers while restaurant and hotel businesses saw the second biggest drop in employment, according to the statistics office.
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