SEOUL, Dec. 31 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s central bank will pay more attention to jobs in its monetary policy next year, Bank of Korea (BOK) Gov. Lee Ju-yeol said Thursday, as the coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the labor market.

The BOK will “take into consideration the employment situation as an important factor of decisions in guiding monetary policy,” Lee said in his New Year’s address.

Lee’s remarks came amid growing calls for the BOK to have legal responsibility for the job market’s stability in an economic crisis like the pandemic.

The number of employed people in South Korea declined for the ninth straight month in November as the pandemic continued to deal a blow to the job market.

It marked the longest streak of job losses since the number of employed people declined for the 16th consecutive month in April 1999 due to the fallout of the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.’

Lee said the BOK will maintain an accommodative monetary policy next year to help the nation’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

The BOK will also take “market stabilization measures” in the foreign exchange and financial markets in a timely manner, Lee said.

Last month, the BOK held its policy rate unchanged at a record low of 0.5 percent while slightly revising up this year’s economic outlook, amid growing concerns over the nation’s third wave of coronavirus infections.

Driven by signs of a modest recovery in exports, the BOK revised up this year’s economic growth outlook to a 1.1 percent contraction, compared with a previous forecast of a 1.3 percent retreat.

The BOK expected the economy to grow 3 percent next year, faster than a previous forecast of 2.8 percent expansion for 2021.