Deteriorating job market makes workers concerned
Nearly 2.66 million workers left employment at least once last year and 24 percent of them did so because they were fired, according to a Statistics Korea report Sunday. This highlights the country’s dismal job market where permanent contracts are increasingly scarce.
The findings come at a time when President-elect Park Geun-hye is under increasing pressure to prevent large companies, including Korea’s family-owned conglomerates or chaebol, from shedding too many people from their payrolls in the face of further economic uncertainty.
The increasing number of people being sidelined from the labor market, highlighted by rising unemployment and the increasing number of people forced to start their own business, is now seen as a considerable threat to the country’s financial stability . Boosting income more broadly is critical when the household debt mountain essentially matches an entire year’s gross domestic product .
The statistics office counts about 700,000 people as officially unemployed. However, when adding those who have given up looking for work, the number could be closer to 4 million, according to economists.
The government perceives those who remained employed or engaged in job-seeking activities for more than six months as employed, which means the results could vary depending on assessment standards.
“Quitting a job doesn’t necessarily mean people become unemployed,” a Statistics Korea official said. “Perhaps some are seeking a new job, while some have already landed a new position .”
The most frequently cited cause for leaving work at 41.2 percent was “family or private concerns,” while the second most cited cause at 20.7 percent was “discontent with working conditions .”
Nearly 13 percent or 339,000 said they were sacked in a management-initiated cost-saving drive , while 11.1 percent or 296,000 lost their job because their contract expired.
Those in the 30s accounted for the largest portion at 26.6 percent or 708,000. Those below 30 came next at 25.3 percent, followed by those in their 40s at 21.9 percent, 50s at 15.4 percent and over 60 at 10.7 percent.
Workers in the 20s and 30s mostly quit their jobs voluntarily due to being unhappy with working conditions, while middle-aged workers mostly lost their jobs in cost-saving drives.
Officials said young people have a relatively high chance of finding a new position, while the chances are low for older jobseekers. This disparity has prompted an increase in the number of early retirees spending their severance pay opening small stores or other self-employed businesses , but many of them have met with financial difficulty amid the prolonged economic slowdown .
President-elect Park has pledged to rebuild the nation’s faltering middle class but that could be a hollow promise without finding a way to improve the sorry state of the employment market.
Superficially, Korea doesn’t appear to have much of a job market problem. The official unemployment rate is just below 3 percent, a level policymakers in Western economies would die for .
Yet closer examination of government statistics reveals that the state of employment is uglier than many imagine.
The 751,000 people officially listed as unemployed in November were dwarfed by the 16 million deemed economically inactive ㅡ neither in work nor seeking employment. This means that 40 percent of the country’s working-age population above the age of 15 is sidelined from the labor market.
And more than 80 percent of the new jobs created in the past year went to people over 50, confirming that the unemployment rate has been softened by those in menial jobs.
deteriorate: 악화되다, 저하되다 (↔ ameliorate)
leave employment: 직장을 그만두다
highlight: 강조하다, 눈에 띄게 하다
President-elect: 대통령 당선자
under pressure: 압박을 받고 있는
in the face of ~: ~에 직면한
sideline: (보통 수동태) [부상•사고 등이] [선수를] 출전 못 하게 하다
forced to + 동사원형: 어쩔 수 없이 ~해야 하는
financial stability: 재무 안정성
household debt: 가계부채
gross domestic product: 국내 총생산
engaged in ~: ~에 몰두해 있는
job-seeking activities: 구직 활동
land a position[job]: 일자리(직장)를 구하다
discontent with ~: ~에 불 만족하는
working conditions: 노동 환경
be sacked: 해고당하다
management-initiated: 회사측에서 시작한
cost-saving drive: 비용 절감 조치
account for ~: (전체에서 몇 퍼센트) ~를 차지하다
have a high chance of ~ing: 할 가능성이 높다
disparity: 차이, 불균형
prompt: 유발하다, 촉발하다
severance pay: 퇴직금
self-employed business: 자영업자
economic slowdown: 경제 둔화, 경제 침체
pledge to + 동사원형: ~하기로 맹세[서약]하다
hollow promise: 공허한 약속
policymaker: 정책 입안자
die for ~: ~를 몹시 갖고 싶어하다
dwarf: 작게 하다[보이게 하다]
deem A B: A를 B라고 생각하다
working-age population: 근로 가능 인구
confirm: 확인하다, 승인하다
menial: 하찮은, 중요하지 않은
By Park Si-soo
Published : Jan 06, 2013< Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >
Source : The Korea Times