Youth employment bleak: Report

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Youth employment bleak: Report

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Korea’s youth unemployment rate as of 2013 was 8 percent, a new study released Monday by the Bank of Korea (BOK) showed - better than the average among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which stands at 13.4 percent.

But when comparing the unemployment rate for those between the ages of 15 and 29 with those of 29 years and older, the gap was wider than the OECD’s.

While the unemployment rate gap between Korean youth was nearly quadruple the rate for seniors and the middle-aged, average youth unemployment in the OECD was just two times higher than the rate for older people.

Even for the United States, which has a higher youth unemployment rate at 12.3 percent, the difference was only 2.1, while in Japan, which has a lower youth unemployment rate of 6.5 percent, the gap was much less at 1.8.

The report noted that youth unemployment has worsened since the mid-2000s. In the early to mid-2000s, it was between 7 and 8 percent. But as of June, the figure shot up to 10.2 percent.

In the first half of 2015, there were 4.5 million jobless.

The central bank said various factors have affected local job markets, though it has mostly to do with a struggling overall economy, excessively high education levels and the inequality between regular and irregular workers.

Another issue facing the country is the polarization between regular and irregular workers.

Young people employed as irregular workers account for 34.6 percent, yet the wages that these employees take home is only 53.5 percent of that earned by regular workers.

But even regular employees at small and midsize companies only receive 60 percent of what their counterparts at conglomerates make.

This is a drop from 71.3 percent in 2000.

The report comes at a time when the central government has announced that in the second half, it will focus on reforming the structure of the labor market to secure better jobs.

Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan vowed on Monday that the government would try to resolve the situation, encouraging private companies to more actively hire young Koreans by offering various incentives.

Those motivations would include a tax break, he said.


BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]

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