SEOUL ⸺ South Korea’s unemployment rate edged up in May after falling to an eight-month low in April, but the number of people employed continued to rise at a sharp pace, underpinning hopes for a gradual recovery in the labour market.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 3.8% last month, Statistics Korea data showed on Wednesday, versus 3.7% in April when it marked the lowest since August 2020.
The number of employed increased by 619,000 from a year earlier, after 652,000 jobs were added in April, the most since August 2014 and more than doubling from March.
The breakdown of the May data showed jobs were mostly added in healthcare and social services, construction, and transportation and warehouses, while those at retailers continued to slump, losing 136,000 jobs from a year earlier.
Around 4,000 people were employed at accommodation facilities and restaurants, but that was much less than the 61,000 people a month ago when it marked the first increase since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
South Korea is expected to announce later this week whether it will extend its current ban on gatherings of more than five people and orders to shut most businesses in the Seoul metropolitan area including restaurants by 10 p.m.
Last week, the finance minister said the government is considering drafting a second supplementary budget of the year to safeguard jobs and boost aid for businesses hit by the pandemic.
Reporting by Joori Roh; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman; Reuters