The amount of unemployment benefits handed out in February surpassed the 800 billion won ($660 million) mark for the first time in February, according to data compiled by the Korea Employment Information Service on Saturday.
The amount of subsidies given to the unemployed in February reached 808.3 billion won, up 28 percent on-year. The sharp increase came even before the novel coronavirus hit the nation in earnest in March, reflecting the sluggish domestic job market in recent months.
Of 100,700 new recipients in February, those in their 50s were the largest age group with 27,000 applying for the subsidies. Those in their 60s and 40s accounted for 22,000 and 20,000, respectively, while the number of unemployment benefit applicants in their 30s and 20s stood at 19,000 and 18,000, respectively.
Those who worked in manufacturing and construction segments were affected the most with the number of recipients in the respective sectors coming in at 18,500 and 16,500.
The job data in March is scheduled to be published next week, and many market watchers expect that the conditions may have worsened due mainly to the ongoing coronavirus spread that has claimed 211 lives as of Saturday with 10,480 having tested positive.
Some 150,000 to 160,000 people are expected to have applied for the unemployment benefits last month.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org