Public sector hiring is skewed toward elderly

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Public sector hiring is skewed toward elderly

Public sector employment growth slowed significantly in 2018, though hiring at the central government and state-owned companies was strong for people 60 years old and above.

According to Statistics Korea Thursday, the number of people working for the government and for government entities was 2.45 million in 2018. That’s up 0.8 percent compared to the previous year, or 20,000 more.

The number of employees added was less than half that in 2017, when 47,000 were newly hired.

In 2018, those working for the government totaled 2.09 million, 85.5 percent of people working in the public sector. That’s a 0.6 percent increase compared to a year earlier, or 13,000 more.

Those working at state-owned companies totaled 354,000, up 2.1 percent, or 7,000 more compared to the previous year.

Among those in government, 32.2 percent worked in the central government, while 51.7 percent worked for local governments.

Government workers in their 30s and 40s are 54.8 percent of all government employees. The total in this group fell in 2018.

A total of 701,000 people in their 40s worked in the public sector, the most for any age group cohort. That’s 28.6 percent of people working in the public sector. However, this is a 1.7 percent drop compared to the previous year, or 12,000 fewer.

The situation was even worse for those in their 30s, which is the second-largest cohort for public sector employment. In 2018, there were 642,000 people in their 30s working in the public sector. That’s a 2.1 percent drop year-on-year, or 14,000 fewer.

While other age groups, including those who are 29 years old or younger or those in their 50s, grew compared to the previous year, the sharpest increase was for people who are 60 years old or older. The total rose 9.1 percent, to 159,000, or 14,000 more than the previous year.

Growth in the number of public sector employees 29 or younger was 2.9 percent to 381,000, and for those in their 50s, the increase was 3.9 percent to 569,000.

In 2017, the increase for those 60 and above was 7,000, a 5 percent increase.

The current administration has been criticized over artificially raising the job figures by creating non-productive jobs in public health and welfare for older people, while people in their 30s and 40s, which are the backbone of the economy, have been losing jobs.

The hiring figure for older people could surge even more dramatically in 2019.

During his presidential campaign, President Moon Jae-in promised to create 810,000 jobs in the public sector during his presidency.

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

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