Koreans’ hours are long, but pay’s not so high

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Koreans’ hours are long, but pay’s not so high


Koreans work the second longest hours of all OECD countries, and their incomes are lower than many nationalities that work less.

According to OECD on Monday, the Korean worker averaged 2,113 working hours in 2015. That’s 54 percent more than Germans, who worked the shortest hours among the member state, 1,371 hours per year. It was 18 percent more than Americans, who worked 1,790 hours a year.

This was the second year in a row that Korea came in second place.

The only country with longer hours than Korea was Mexico, where a worker averaged 2,246 hours.

Using purchasing power parity (PPP), Korea’s per capita income was $33,110, about 80 percent of the OECD average of $41,253. Korea came in 22nd in terms of per capita income out of 34 member states.

The hourly wage based on PPP in Korea was $15.67, which is about 66 percent that of the OECD average of $23.36.

Average working hours for neighboring Japan, famed for long hours, was 1,719 hours, which is 18.6 percent lower than Korea. However, Japan’s hourly wage was $20.81, which is 32.8 percent higher than Korea’s.

The OECD data showed that Koreans work 49 days, or 2.2 months, more than Japanese, but earn 75% that Japanese workers earn in terms of hourly wages. This data is based on an eight-hour working day.

The gap gets bigger when Korea is compared to Germany. Koreans work 4.2 months longer than Germans, but only earn 73 percent of what Germans do.

Compared to the United States, Koreans worked 1.8 months longer but earned 56.4 percent of what Americans earn a year.

Luxembourg was the country with the highest income based on PPP, where the average worker earned $60,369 a year. It was followed by the United States ($58,714), Switzerland ($58,389) and Norway ($50,908).

Mexicans, even though they work the longest hours among OECD member countries, earned the least. The average Mexican earned $14,867 a year. It was followed by Hungary ($19,999), Latvia ($20,518) and Estonia ($21,564).

By working hours, Greece came in the third after Mexico and Korea with 2,042 hours per year. It was followed by Chile (1,988 hours), Poland (1,963 hours) and Latvia (1,903 hours).

Netherlands came in second for working the shortest hours at 1,419 hours. Norway, Denmark and France were also in the top five.

BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]
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