Local industry grows amid rocky job market

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Local industry grows amid rocky job market


Source: Statistics Korea

In the space of five years, Korea has experienced a sudden housing bubble, an economic crisis on a global scale, from which it rapidly recovered, and new threats in the form of Europe’s sovereign debt crisis and the prospect of another global recession.

Yet Korean industry has grown exceptionally well despite the turbulent times, with many companies taking the crises as opportunities to capitalize on others’ misfortune and expand.

However, according to a recent government report, job security has taken a major hit over the same period. The number of people hired as temporary workers has shot up and more people are deciding that, in such risky times, starting their own business is worth the gamble.

Another major change that has taken place in recent years is the rise of women in the workforce, with more ascending to positions in management than ever before.

According to Statistics Korea yesterday, companies with fewer than 10 employees increased 3.7 percent last year from 2005, while those with smaller workforces jumped by 29 percent.

Meanwhile, some 15,000 firms had more than 100 workers in 2010, up 36.4 percent from 2005. Also last year, there were a total of 3.36 million companies in Korea, which is a 4.7 percent increase from five years earlier.

The census is announced every five years and is based on a survey of all Korean companies, which include self-employed people.

Yesterday’s survey on last year’s business conditions was conducted from May 23 to June 24 of this year and is aimed at understanding the structure of employment, production and costs among national industries.

However, despite the growing number of entities, both private and corporate, temporary workers surged by 49.8 percent to 2.53 million last year. Meanwhile, regular workers only rose 16.1 percent.

In five years, the proportion of regular workers making up the national workforce inched down from 60.9 percent to 60.6 percent.

“The number of temporary workers rose as a large number of construction workers were included in this report because we adopted a different calculation system from five years ago,” said a Statistics Korea employee.

The survey also showed that self-employed businesses made up 83.2 percent of all companies in Korea last year, totaling 2.79 million firms. But their combined sales remained small, accounting for only 11.3 percent of the sales of all companies last year. Local entities raised 4,283.98 trillion won in sales that year.

The number of employees hired by self-employed people also stood at 6.9 million, meaning their average employment was about 2.5 last year, far lower than the average 5.3 employees across all companies.

Corporations took up 10.5 percent of the total number of business entities and hired an average of 21.8 workers. Their combined sales made up 77.6 percent of the total, the report showed. Businesses were concentrated in Seoul, with 21.7 percent, followed by Gyeonggi, Busan and South Gyeongsang.

Furthermore, the number of female presidents at companies grew at a faster rate than their male counterparts.

By Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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