Finance minister is pessimistic about jobs

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Finance minister is pessimistic about jobs

Korea’s dismal employment conditions are expected to drag on, at least for the remainder of the year, as the local job market seems to be hitting bottom, Korea’s finance minister said on Thursday.

Kim Dong-yeon’s remarks, made at a meeting with a group of foreign correspondents on Thursday, came as the country’s job creation remains in the doldrums. The number of employed people reached 26.9 million in August, up a meager 3,000 from the same month in 2017, according to Statistics Korea.

The increase in jobs last month is the smallest since January 2010, when 10,000 jobs were cut.

The number of new jobs has stayed below 10,000 per month for the second straight month. The manufacturing sector shed 105,000 jobs, marking a decline for the fifth consecutive month. The retail segment also saw a reduction of 123,000 jobs in August compared with a year earlier.

“The country’s weak job market is expected to continue through the rest of the year,” Kim said.

The minister said earlier that the government will make an all-out effort to improve the country’s dismal job market as a dramatic upturn in employment is unlikely in the near future.

There has been criticism that the Moon Jae-in government’s signature economic policies, such as raising the minimum wage, are part of the reason for the poor job market and widening income inequality.

But the minister has stressed that next year’s planned wage hike is irreversible.

Earlier, a government commission decided to raise the minimum wage for next year by 10.9 percent to 8,350 won ($7.44) per hour after a 16.4 percent rise this year.

The minister has said that a series of policy steps should be implemented in such a way that the market and society can adapt, signaling more flexibility toward critical issues going forward.

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