South Korea's top 30 business groups cut nearly 20,000 jobs in 2016 amid the country's prolonged economic slowdown, a corporate tracker said Sunday.
According to CEO Score, 253 affiliates of the leading conglomerates, known here as chaebol, had a combined workforce of 930,124 as of the end of last year, down 19,903, or 2.1 percent, from a year earlier.
The figure covers only the groups' units that have published business reports for fiscal 2016.
Samsung Group, South Korea's top family-controlled conglomerate, eliminated 13,006 jobs, the largest number, as its flagship Samsung Electronics Co. and other major subsidiaries took large-scale restructuring moves.
Hyundai Heavy Industries Group came next with some 4,912 job cuts, followed by Doosan Group with 1,991, troubled shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. (DSME) with 1,938 and leading steelmaker POSCO with 1,456.
By company, Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., a leading global shipyard, posted the most layoffs at 4,332, trailed by tech behemoth Samsung Electronics with 3,698 and major shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries Co. with 2,077.
South Korea's major shipyards were in the midst of painful restructuring efforts last year due to snowballing losses stemming from a tumble in orders. The three major shipbuilders alone -- DSME, Hyundai Heavy Industries and Samsung Heavy Industries -- laid off 8,347 workers last year, or 15.3 percent of their combined headcount.
In contrast, retail conglomerate Shinsegae Group increased its workforce by 1,199 last year, the largest among top business groups.
"It was very unusual for the top 30 business groups to cut their workforces by around 2 percent," said Park Ju-keun, chief of CEO Score. "They performed relatively well last year, but the massive job cuts are deemed pre-emptive, belt-tightening moves to brace for future uncertainty."
The leading groups' large-scale job reductions came amid the South Korean economy's continued slowdown. Asia's fourth-largest economy grew a mere 2.8 percent in 2016 from a year earlier, hit by falling exports and flaccid domestic demand. (Yonhap)