Decreasing job opportunities, increasing job losses
The job market is taking the brunt of the coronavirus outbreak. The public are advised to maintain distance from others while companies, hit by the outbreak, delay recruiting or close job openings. About 50 percent of large businesses are expected to hire fewer people than originally planned or have not yet formulated recruitment plans according to the Korea Economic Research Institute. As companies struggle to deal with dwindling performance, those who have been waiting for job postings for a year are worried that it would undermine their job prospects.
“Job market trends in February,” which was released by Statistics Korea on Wednesday, also paints a grim picture. The number of employees in their 20s took a big dip. The number declined by 49,000 for those aged between 20 and 24, many of whom work part-time at restaurants and other places, while the rate of increase slowed down for those over 25. The total figure increased by 49,000 in February, but many are worried as the impact of the outbreak is expected to start showing in March.
Numerous employees have been forced to take unpaid leave or leave their jobs. Community job centers are filled with people who want to apply for unemployment benefits. They are all from different backgrounds, too, from restaurant staff who lost their job because there was no customer to an executive of a shipping company on the brink of bankruptcy. Unemployment benefits recorded the highest in February at 781.9 billion won. Already more than 10,000 companies have applied this year for employment benefits that the government provides for maintaining the number of employees, and and the number is still increasing by 1,000 everyday, a considerable jump given that only 1,500 applications were submitted last year.
Emergency funds should be provided for small and medium businesses to prevent them from going bankrupt, which can damage the job market. The government and the financial authorities have lent additional seven trillion won, but it takes more than three months to go through the evaluation process. There is also a possibility that part timers and workers in special employment types who are not covered by an unemployment insurance might be able to receive any of the government-funded benefits.
A healthy economy requires young people, and this applies even when things are not good. Companies should hire young people to make their management more sustainable and boost the economy. The government should not hesitate to provide incentives to encourage companies to recruit. Many government benefits often fail to reach those in need due to a strict evaluation process or their shortcomings. It should be flexible in deploying every possible means such as youth employment benefits, job stability benefits and employment benefits to maintain the number of jobs.