(Bloomberg) -- South Korea’s jobless rate unexpectedly rose in October as the coronavirus kept businesses reluctant to hire.

The unemployment rate climbed to 4.2% from 3.9% in September, data from the statistical office showed Wednesday. Economists had forecast the rate improving to 3.8%. The nation shed 421,000 jobs, an eighth straight month of declining employment.

The elevated jobless rate illustrates the damage to hiring from the coronavirus, even as the overall economy continues to recover. While South Korea has brought a summer virus wave under control and social distancing rules have been eased, consumers and businesses remain wary of a potential flareup that could again hurt economic activity.

The latest data on exports and industrial production show South Korea’s economy is recovering at a faster pace than most major countries, bolstered by better management of the virus and a tech-led exports boost. Still, businesses may not regain the confidence to hire until pandemic-related uncertainty fades.

Jobs in the real estate industry contracted the most in percentage terms, with a 13% decline from a year ago. The government’s job creation efforts saw a 11% increase in employment related to public, defense and social-security administration.

Hotel and restaurant sectors lost 227,000 jobs and wholesale and retail businesses shed 188,000.

(Updates with detail and chart.)

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