What Does South Korea’s Unemployment Numbers Really Mean?

kpopluv, Jan. 15, 2015, 10:46 a.m.


The number of employed people stood at 25.6 million last year, an increase of 533,000 compared to 2013 and the largest in 12 years. But the numbers do not reflect the real situation.  Last year, more than 45,000 workers were laid off in the financial industry via voluntary retirement programs, while telecom service provider KT let go 8,300 staff. In a survey by the Korea Employers Federation this year, one out of four businesses said they planned to reduce new hires this year. 



Moreover, 45 percent of workers who found jobs in 2014 were in their 50s because a growing number of baby boomers born between 1955 and 1963 looked for new work after being made redundant.  On paper, it is good news that 77,000 more young people between 19 and 29 found jobs last year, the first increase since 2000. But unemployment in the age bracket soared to a record nine percent. 

The available jobs could not keep up with the number of young jobseekers, and many of the jobs that were created were temporary positions. One out of every five new hires last year signed up for short-term contract positions.  So why does the government try to distort the facts? A far more important task would be to nurture more businesses so that they can hire more young workers. 



Over in the U.S., innovative companies like Google and Facebook that started in an IT boom in the 1990s continue to expand and create new jobs. But here only three such companies have managed to join the top 100 businesses in terms of market capitalization -- Naver, Daum Kakao and Coway. 

Small and mid-sized venture companies, which are responsible for 88 percent of total employment, must be allowed to grow and create more jobs. The government must nurture them with tax incentives and subsidies so that they can hire more jobseekers. 

 

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