SEOUL, April 4 (Yonhap) — More than 35 public firms in South Korea plan to hire more than 5,000 new employees this year, but the number is still almost 40 percent lower than last year’s job additions amid extended pandemic fallout, data showed Sunday.

Thirty-six public firms plan to hire 5,089 regular workers this year, compared with 8,350 people hired last year, according to data posted on the state portal All Public Information in One (ALIO).

Korea Railroad Corp. (KORAIL), the operator of railway services, plans to hire the biggest number of 1,400 people, followed by the Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) with 1,100 new employees.

The government plans to bolster job creation in public firms and institutions in an effort to prop up the sluggish job markets.

Last year, the country reported the biggest job losses since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, with the in-person service sector, temporary workers and women bearing the brunt of the pandemic.

The nation reported job losses for the 12th straight month in February, but job reductions eased from January in the latest sign of a mild improvement in the job market.