The COVID-19 outbreak has taken its toll on South Korea's job market, which has seen its worst annual performance since the Asian Financial Crisis.
According to Statistics Korea on Wednesday, the average number of people in employment in 2020 was roughly 27 million,… down 218-thousand from the previous year.
This is the largest drop since 1998, in the aftermath of Asian Financial Crisis 22 years ago.
It is also the first time the average number of people employed has dropped in 11 years.
Since last March when the pandemic began to affect the economy, employment figures fell for 10 consecutive months on-year, which marks the longest period of on-year decline since 1999.
Roughly 26.five million people were employed in December, down 628-thousand on-year.
"The on-year decline for the number employed in December worsened because of the strengthened social distancing measures since December 8th."
The official from Statistics Korea said the most job losses last year were in the service industry.
The wholesale and retail sector saw the largest drop, falling by 160-thousand jobs, or by 4.4 percent compared to 2019.
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said in an economic ministerial meeting on Wednesday that the repercussions of COVID-19 in the job market are expected to last through January and February as well.
He said the government will hire at least 45 percent of its annual public sector intake within the first half of the year.
He also said, the government will come up with measures within the first quarter to hire more young people and women.
Eum Ji-young, Arirang News.