South Korea saw more jobless people seek financial assistance from the state pension fund in the first quarter of this year amid the country's worsening unemployment situation, data showed Thursday.
According to the data from the National Pension Service (NPS), 129,000 unemployed people applied for the so-called unemployment credits in the January-March period, up 12 percent from the same period a year earlier.
Unemployment credits are the pension operator's financial support for those who receive unemployment benefits. Recipients of unemployment benefits can get financial aid amounting to three-quarters of their insurance payments for a maximum one-year period.
The country introduced the unemployment credit system in August 2016, with the number of applicants totaling slightly over 497,000 as of the end of 2017.
The surge in the number of unemployment credit applicants came as a result of rising unemployment in Asia's fourth-largest economy.
According to data from Statistics Korea, the number of jobless people was 1.01 million last year, the highest level since 2000, when the agency began compiling relevant data.
The jobless situation has been deteriorating this year. Unemployed people in South Korea totaled 1.26 million in March, with the number hovering above the 1 million mark for the third straight month. It was also the highest tally for March since 2000.
The country's jobless rate stood at 4.5 percent in March, the highest rate for the month since the 5.1 percent recorded in 2001.
With the jobless rate remaining high, 628,000 South Koreans applied for unemployment benefits in the first quarter of this year, the largest quarterly tally since 2010, according to a report by the Korean Employment Information Service.
The applicants are estimated to have received a combined 1.49 trillion won (US$1.38 billion) in unemployment benefits during the three-month period.
In South Korea, eligible workers can get unemployment allowances for three to eight months, depending on their age and the terms of their unemployment insurance policy.
Kim Sua firstname.lastname@example.org
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