Family heads need workThere are approximately 2.55 million family heads at home doing nothing as we enter the third quarter of this year, 180,000 more than last year. Their numbers started to increase in 2003, and now account for more than 15 percent of families.
If the head of the family has no income, the family has to squander its precious savings to survive, and the responsibility falls on others to make a living.
If this is not possible, families turn to the government for help. But if this trend continues, people are concerned that the rest of the population will suffer, leading to deep divisions and enmity in society.
Quite simply, the figures are increasing because of the lack of jobs. This year only 290,000 new jobs were created, falling short of the government’s original target of 300,000.
Considering that more than 500,000 young people have just entered the job market, the pool of new jobs is far too shallow.
What’s more, more mid-career professionals and businesspeople whose companies have gone bust are also hunting for work.
The problems are complex. It’s hard for people in their 40s and 50s to move to another company, and establishing a new business is challenging. Competition is stiff, making the decision to start over a tough call.
It doesn’t help that Korea ranks 95th in terms of countries with a friendly environment for creating new businesses, according to the World Economic Forum.
The aging population is another factor at play here. One in 10 people is over 65, and it’s thought that this number will balloon to four in 10 by 2050.
Nevertheless, the national age for retirement is comparatively low, there are few jobs for senior citizens and retirees often lack a clear plan for their free time.
The next government needs to cease focusing on ideology and get down to the more realistic challenge of creating more jobs and more opportunities for business to expand.
These jobs need to target the very people now seeking work: students graduating from university, high school graduates, mid-career workers, failed entrepreneurs and the retired.
People who create jobs in Korea should be considered patriots, and politicians who initiate a better environment for employment should be recognized as political leaders.
When the head of a family is gainfully employed, a family is happy and society is secure.