SEJONG, June 8 (Korea Bizwire) — The amount of state funds paid out as unemployment benefits surpassed 1 trillion won (US$830 million) for the first time last month, data showed Monday, due largely to the negative economic impact of the new coronavirus outbreak.
According to the Ministry of Employment and Labor, the government paid 1.16 trillion won in benefits to those struggling to find jobs in May, marking a 33.9 percent increase from 758.7 billion won paid in the same month last year.
The May figure marked the first time for the monthly unemployment handouts to exceed 1 trillion won since the introduction of the unemployment insurance program in 1995.
It also marked the fourth-consecutive month for the unemployment allowance figures to reach new record highs.
The ministry said about 111,000 people applied for jobseeker benefits last month, up 32.1 percent from a year ago, suggesting that most of them appear to have been affected by the spread of COVID-19.
The ministry attributed the record payments to an increase in new applications, as well as a rise in both the amount of payments and an extension in the period under which benefits are offered.
Among the applicants, 678,000 were approved for benefits, up 84,000, or 32.1 percent, from a year ago.
From a year ago, the number of new subscribers for April reached 13.82 million, up 1.1 percent.
New subscribers in the service sector for the month reached 9.44 million, up 2.1 percent, or 194,000, from last year.
New subscribers in the manufacturing sector dropped 1.5 percent to 3.53 million, falling for nine consecutive months since September of last year.