A million miseriesAn era of unemployment with a million people out of work is once again becoming a reality.
According to data in February released by the National Statistical Office, unemployment grew to 3.9 percent, and the number of unemployed exceeded 920,000 people.
The number of young people without jobs has hit its highest point since March 2005.
The job market tends to reflect the state of a country’s economy, and the jobless will get back to work only when the overall economy starts to improve.
However, it is highly likely that the domestic and global economies will stay in a slump for the time being.
Although the Korean economy will probably hit bottom in the latter half of the year and begin to recover as the government expects, the fear of unemployment will persist throughout the year.
In addition, we’re likely to see more structural adjustments and bankruptcies, which will add to the unemployment woes. The government is planning to initiate a second round of restructuring for the shipbuilding and construction industries and for the larger conglomerates. And there is a big possibility that many small and midsized enterprises will go broke. If this scenario plays out, the 1 million mark will be reached sooner rather than later.
What we need are alternative measures to deal with the job crisis.
Of course, it is true that the government has unveiled urgent support for people in need and several job-creation measures such as the so-called Green New Deal and internships for young people.
But it’s simply not enough.
Six trillion won cannot rescue the rapidly increasing number of newly impoverished people, and the expedient of hiring interns shouldn’t be used as a way of bringing down unemployment numbers.
It is time to devise more effective and efficient measures. We have to build a stronger social safety net by drawing up fresh employment policies and employment measures.
The labor market currently has a rigid structure but the labor market will become smoother if the welfare of the unemployed is improved. In addition, there is a need to implement urgent training programs to prevent the jobless rate from ever again reaching the 1 million mark.
The fundamental measure is corporate investment expansion and deregulation. Regulations on service industries such as medicine and education should be drastically eased. We should strive to foster an environment of encouraging entrepreneurship. Only then will people be prepared to invest.