SEJONG, July 20 (Yonhap) — The employment rate for people in their 40s in South Korea hit a 21-year low in June as the coronavirus pandemic hammered job markets, data showed Monday.

According to the data from the nation’s statistics agency, the employment rate for 40-somethings stood at 76.9 percent last month, marking the lowest rate since June 1999.

An official at Statistics Korea attributed the decline to lackluster performances in the wholesale and retail sectors, which were hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

South Korea lost about 352,000 jobs in June, marking the fourth consecutive monthly decline in the number of employed people.

It was the first time since October 2009 that the nation lost jobs for the fourth straight month.

After nearly six weeks of tighter social distancing, the government eased the guideline on May 6 to enable citizens to carry out social and economic activities amid quarantine rules.