Number of SME workers rises for 13th month in March

SEOUL-- The number of workers employed by South Korean small and medium enterprises (SMEs) gained for the 13th straight month in March on the back of a gradual economic recovery, a report showed Tuesday.

Local SMEs with fewer than 300 employees had a combined workforce of 24.78 million as of end-March, up 650,000 from a year earlier, according to the report from the Korea Small Business Institute.

March represents the 13th consecutive month that the number of SME employees has expanded from a year earlier.

Health and social welfare service sectors added 200,000 jobs last month, while such sectors as information and communication, and science and technology registered strong gains.

The institute said March's increase came amid a slow recovery in the Korean economy thanks to improving domestic demand and exports, despite the spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19.

The report also showed local SMEs' exports coming to US$11.19 billion in March, up 9.9 percent from the same month a year earlier.

Yet the institute voiced concern that the country's economic recovery may be stymied by such external negatives as Russia's prolonged invasion of Ukraine, China's expanding coronavirus lockdowns and possible monetary tightening in the United States and other major economies.

Source: Yonhap News Agency