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Korea’s Record-Low Joblessness Masks Hit From Worst Outbreak

  • Economic participation rate fell to 62.8%, lowest since March
  • Government sectors led hiring increases; retail lost positions
A job seeker participates in an interview at a job fair for youths in Seongnam, South Korea.

A job seeker participates in an interview at a job fair for youths in Seongnam, South Korea.

Photographer: Jean Chung/Bloomberg
Updated on

The surprise drop in South Korea’s unemployment rate to a record in August belies broader weakness in the job market as the nation’s worst virus outbreak discouraged people from looking for work and companies from hiring. 

The number of people either employed or searching for jobs fell to the lowest level since March, the statistics office said Wednesday. The decline in labor-force participation helped push the jobless rate down to 2.8% from 3.3% in July, defying economists’ expectation of an increase to 3.5%.