South Korea's employment agency said Saturday the combined amount of unemployment benefit handed out to job seekers jumped more than 20 percent in the January-May period of 2018 from a year earlier.
Unemployment benefit paid to local job seekers over the first five months of this year came to 2.69 trillion won (US$2.41 billion), up 473.6 billion won from a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Korea Employment Information Service.
This is a record-high figure for the period since the organization started compiling data in 2010. The amount came to 1.6 trillion won in the January-May period of 2010 and gradually increased to hit the 2-trillion won mark in 2016.
The rise apparently reflects tepid job growth in the country against a backdrop of an increase in the number of job seekers and a big rise in the minimum wage, industry watchers said.
|A participant looks at a bulletin board at a job fair held in Seoul in this file photo taken on June 15, 2018. (Yonhap)|
This year, the government hiked the minimum wage by 16.4 percent, but the move has had the unintended effect of hampering job growth as smaller firms have dismissed many part-time workers.
Around 816,000 South Koreans received unemployment benefit over the January-May period, with each person receiving around 3.3 million won.
South Korea's labor ministry said the number of recipients increased 9 percent over the cited period.
Experts said if the trend continues for the remainder of 2018, the unemployment benefit bill could reach a whopping 6.4 trillion won this year, compared to 5.2 trillion won in 2017. (Yonhap)
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