September’s employment statistics are proving the saying “epidemic prevention and control equals the economy” to be true. The employment situation that began to improve gradually since May has deteriorated yet again. The lives of ordinary families have also become even more difficult. The cause of these hardships was the painful resurgence of COVID-19 in August.
The resurgence of the virus has dampened consumer sentiment and led to enhanced social distancing and business restrictions. For this reason, unemployment figures have expanded again mainly in the service industry. The resurgence of COVID-19 at the height of the second-half recruiting season has resulted in a significant contraction of new employment as well, further aggravating the job situation. With a very heavy heart, I think about those who have lost or have not been able to find jobs and those who have been temporarily furloughed due to the deterioration of the employment situation. In particular, the anxiety of the young people who find it increasingly difficult to secure jobs makes my heart sink.
This has served as an opportunity for us to be acutely aware of how negatively the resurgence of COVID-19 can affect our economy and jobs. The Government will once again bear in its heart that “the best epidemic prevention and control practices are a shortcut to reviving the economy.”
We will continue to do all we can to overcome this shock to the employment market as quickly as possible. I urge everyone to swiftly complete disbursing the funds for emergency employment stability support prepared in the fourth supplementary budget and work with the utmost effort to assist those households in crisis. Moreover, I ask everyone to prepare thoroughly so that all 300,000 planned public-sector jobs can be created within this year and the project to provide 1.03 million public work jobs can be executed from the beginning of next year without any disruption. The Korean New Deal should also be brought into full swing so that it can promote job creation.
Even though the Government plays a pump-priming role, it is still crucial for the private sector to take steps to create quality jobs. I ask the Government to provide active support by accelerating regulatory innovation and assistance for private investments.
In the end, employment-related difficulties can be resolved only when the economy picks up. It was very regrettable that the COVID-19 resurgence in August put a damper on the recovery of domestic demand, limiting the economic rebound. However, we now need to dispel despair. Even amid this situation, our economy performed better in the third quarter than it did in the second. Recently, our epidemic prevention and control situation has slowly stabilized, helping yet again to revive consumption and domestic demand. We should take this as an opportunity. Having overcome the crisis of COVID-19’s resurgence and implemented the easing of epidemic prevention measures last week, I look forward to this serving as a critical opportunity to boost consumption and economic vitality. If domestic demand picks up in addition to the recent recovery in exports, this could help solidify our economic rebound.
In this sense, now is the golden time for an economic rebound. Now is the time to redouble pan-government efforts to enhance economic vitality. The Government must, first of all, take wide-ranging measures to boost domestic demand.
I ask you to prepare and immediately implement policies that have so far been kept on the shelf due to the COVID-19 situation. While monitoring the situation with epidemic prevention and control, the distribution of vouchers should be resumed and various other projects to promote consumer spending should be pushed. I ask you to pay special attention so that the fields hit hardest by COVID-19 – the arts, culture, travel and tourism – can be revitalized.
Moreover, I urge you to do your utmost to execute budgets, spur investments and support the recovery of exports in order to accelerate an economic rebound. We also have to strive to make sure that investments by businesses, the public sector and those related to privately funded infrastructure ventures can be implemented as planned within this year. In particular, I ask you to do all you can so that our exports, which have entered a recovery phase, do not face difficulties once more due to the resurgence of COVID-19 in Europe and the rest of the world. I would like you to strengthen support for contact-free exports, our strong suit, and to further solidify the Government support system that resolves businesses’ export-related difficulties.
I also have to ask something of the people. We have no choice but to live with COVID-19. Along with epidemic prevention and control efforts in our daily routines, we must safeguard the economy. If we do not repeat the setback from August but properly follow epidemic prevention and control guidelines without becoming exhausted, as we have done so far, we can both fight the disease and revive the economy successfully.
I ask people to become the principal agents in bringing about the success of epidemic prevention and control measures and the economic rebound. The Government will also do everything it can – together with the people – for the success of the economy and our epidemic prevention and control measures.