A man looks at listings for open positions on a job board. (Photo: Yonhap News)
South Korea reported the largest job loss in December in more than two decades as a resurgence in new coronavirus cases dealt another devastating blow to the service sector.
Statistics Korea data showed Wednesday that the number of employed people reached 26.5 million last month, down 628,000 from a year earlier.
It marked the sharpest on-year fall since February 1999, when the country lost 658,000 jobs in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.
The country has reported job losses every month since March, when the nation lost about 195,000 jobs, the first on-year job loss since 2009, due to fallout from the pandemic.
For the whole of 2020, the number of employed people came to 26.9 million, down 218,000 from the previous year, for the steepest decline since 1998 when 1.28 million positions were lost.
Jeong Dong-myeong, a senior official from the statistics agency, said the service segments were hit particularly hard as people refrained from visiting offline stores over concerns about virus infections and tougher social distancing rules.
"For the whole year, the face-to-face service sectors suffered larger job losses, and temporary workers, young adults and those in their 30s took a beating," Jeong said.
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki voiced "deep" concerns about grim data, saying the government will draw up additional measures to prop up the labor market, if needed.
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