SEOUL, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- South Korea has seen its biggest increase in the number of people claiming unemployment benefits with the combined state expenses to support job seekers expected to reach a record level, government data show.
The total number of South Koreans claiming job seeker's allowance rose to 384,000 last month, a 15 percent increase from a year before. Some 80,000 people applied for the allowance for the first time in November, a 7 percent increase from 2017, according to the Ministry of Employment and Labor.
This year's combined unemployment benefits are expected to exceed $5.3 billion (6 trillion won) in December due to the jump in job seekers claiming the benefits.
The minimum wage hike has also raised the total unemployment benefit payment. The government raised the minimum wage from 7,530 won ($6.60) in 2018 to 8,350 won ($7.40) per hour next year.
Meanwhile, the number of people employed, who are covered by employment insurance, increased to 13 million, a 3.5 percent increase from November last year.
The labor ministry figure shows that the rise in the number of people covered by employment insurance has been due to a jump in employment in the service sector. The number of insured workforces in the service industry rose by 436,000 to 9 million in November, compared to a year before.
South Korea's total unemployment rate remains at 3.5 percent while the unemployment rate for youth is 8.4 percent. The number of 15- to 29-year-olds who are unemployed are 359,000 in November, according to Statistics Korea.