Create jobs for young peopleKorea’s job numbers continue to improve, even with a difficult world economic climate. The number of working people surpassed 25 million last month for the first time ever, adding 472,000 over just a year. Thanks to this notable development, the employment rate hit 60.5 percent, the highest since June 2008.
At first glance, the job data seems to provide much comfort amid jitters over the spreading crisis in the euro zone and an economic slowdown being felt just about everywhere. But the numbers do not tell the whole story. In fact, they mask some hard truths.
The May employment data released by the National Statistics Office showed that new hiring mostly centered on the age category of over 50, while jobs
decreased for people in their 20s and 30s.
A total of 282,000 jobs were added for people in the 50s and 278,000 jobs for people in their 60s from the same month a year earlier. However, the number of employed among people in their 20s dropped by 42,000 and for people in their 30s by 95,000. In other words, the most economically active age group has been losing jobs, while those at retirement age found work. Such a flawed labor structure can hardly be deemed healthy.
As a matter of fact, it is not difficult to note other areas of weakness in the data. Hiring in the manufacturing sector fell for eight consecutive months, while jobs surged in the services sector, including wholesale, retail, restaurants and lodging.
Due to slowed industrial activity, the manufacturing sector, which needs a young workforce, is hiring less, and the retired population is opting for low-paying and part-time jobs at restaurants, retail outlets and lodging houses to supplement their pensions or saving. The people hired in their 50s and 60s are, in fact, adding illusory numbers to the job data. It isn’t wise to take the job numbers provided by the government at face value.
Prospects for the job market will most likely worsen as the world economy is headed for a prolonged slowdown amid serious debt woes in Europe. It has become imperative to create meaningful new jobs to move the market and the economy and bring some vibrancy and sustainability.
Against this backdrop, the government and politicians should stop gas-bagging and get down to some real work on feasible action plans. They must act fast and resolutely to create jobs for young people.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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