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.
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)