Before it’s too late

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Before it’s too late

The employment situation of our young has not shown any sign of recovery. The employment rate of college graduates has begun to dive after incremental increases in the past. According to the Ministry of Education’s survey of 570,000 graduates across the country at the end of 2017, the figure fell to 66.2 percent, a 1.5 percent drop from a year earlier.

This is the first time that the employment rate has fallen below 67 percent since 2011. The survey shows that the employment rate for graduates of junior colleges has also declined. That is a shameful scorecard for the Moon Jae-in administration, which has placed job creation as a top priority.

The alarming rate of joblessness among the young — including college graduates — is not new. Data released by the Statistics Office’s from November shows that the unemployment rate for people between the ages of 15 and 29 temporarily fell to 7.9 percent. But that’s mostly due to a short-term increase in part-time jobs in the public sector, which the government has been pushing since the liberal administration’s launch in May 2017. You can hardly interpret a short-term spike in employment as a genuine sign of improvement because those jobs were arbitrarily created using the people’s tax money.

Despite a global surge in employment this year, the Moon administration worsened Korea’s situation through an untested economic experiment dubbed “income-led growth,” which is basically aimed at boosting people’s incomes by forcing up the minimum wage. Even after taking this risky approach to the economy, the government repeatedly resorted to quick fixes until all the indicators finally showed that the experiment failed, especially on the job front.

When Moon was handed the worst employment scorecard since the 2007-08 global financial meltdown, he ordered officials to devise extraordinary measures to increase the employment rate. The officials came up with the idea of handing out 10.35 million won ($9,237) in subsidies each year to youth who want to get jobs at small- and mid-sized companies. That’s not all: the government has long been criticized for trying to create short-time jobs at public corporations to lift the employment rate. That is not the way to address the problem in a real way. Simply put, it is neither a good, nor a sustainable solution.

If the Moon administration insists on its botched income-led growth policy next year, it will lead to catastrophe for both the young and old. The government must change course before it’s too late.

JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 28, Page 30
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