[EDITORIALS]Jobless youthLast year, the unemployment rate of those between the ages of 15 and 29 was 8 percent, more than double the total average unemployment rate of 3.7 percent. There are more than 400,000 unemployed youths in our society who want to work but are unable to find jobs. In addition, statistics show that there are some 125,000 people in that age category who have given up on seeking jobs altogether, a 25 percent increase from the previous year. In total, there are more than 500,000 youths who either can’t find a job or have given up on finding employment.
The average age of the employees working at the most well-known companies in our nation is about 40. The average age of a worker is 41.5 years old at POSCO, 40 years old at Hyundai Mobis and 39.8 years old at Hyundai Motors. The aging of industrial sites is occurring at a faster pace than the aging of the general society. Should this trend continue, we could run the risk of a rupture in the labor market. Such a rupture could signify the failure to transfer industrial knowledge and know-how from the existing generation of laborers to the next.
Recently, we have seen an odd trend of employment chances shrinking for those in their 20s and 30s and growing for those in their 40s and 50s. Last year, the number of people in their 20s and 30s who were able to find jobs was 173,000 less than the year before. On the other hand, 388,000 more people in their 50s and 60s found employment last year compared to the year before. Most of the jobs that those in their 50s and 60s were able to find were low-paying hard labor. There were only 299,000 new jobs created last year, a number that falls sadly short of the government’s initial goal of 400,000.
The decrease in youth labor can partly be blamed on the dwindling population growth but the fundamental reason lies in the fact that there are few employment opportunities for young people nowadays. The prolonged recession and the subsequent lack of corporate investment have put a damper on the creation of new jobs. Powerful unions at most big companies make it difficult for management to shift personnel and employ new faces. Red tape and cumbersome administrative procedures are hindering the emergence and growth of young start-up companies.
Creating new jobs should be a top priority in government policy. We do not think that this government is oblivious to its duties. It is well aware that it must boost corporate activity and do away with unnecessary regulations so that more businesses can emerge and grow.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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