SEOUL — South Korea’s August unemployment rate fell to the lowest on record, government data showed on Wednesday, suggesting that the economy continued to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, even as it struggles to contain the latest wave of infections.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in August dropped to 2.8%, Statistics Korea data showed, the lowest since data releases began in June 1999 and the third straight month of decline. The rate stood at 3.3% in July.
The number of employed increased by 518,000 from a year earlier, after 542,000 jobs were added in July.
The breakdown of August data showed jobs were mostly added in healthcare and social services, construction, and transportation and warehouses.
Those at retailers, however, continued to slump, losing 113,000 jobs from a year earlier, and there were 38,000 less jobs in accommodation facilities and restaurants.
South Korea continues to battle its worst wave of COVID-19 infections, fanned by the more transmissible Delta variant, and has extended social distancing curbs to at least Oct. 3 as the country boosts vaccinations ahead of a Chuseok holiday, also known as Korean Thanksgiving Day, next week.
The nation has registered a total 275,910 infections since the pandemic started, with 2,367 deaths. Just 40% of the 52 million population are fully vaccinated
The Bank of Korea currently sees the annual unemployment rate at 3.9% for this year and 3.8% for next. (Reporting by Joori Roh; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)