Where are all the jobs?
The author is the head of the industry 1 team of the JoongAng Ilbo.
Spring may be here, but the job market is still stuck out in the cold. The wait has been long for hiring notices through the winter, but schedules are being postponed. According to the Korea Economic Research Institute, 64 percent of the 500 biggest companies have no plan to hire in the first half of the year, or have yet to make a plan.
The hiring winter season is not likely to warm up, at least in the first half. President Moon recently assessed that the employment market was in a grave situation and needs urgent reforms. However, after seeing Moon’s emergency plan to create 900,000 jobs in central and local governments, I worry that the cold will last longer.
The government has already poured more than 80 trillion won ($70 billion) into job creation. Thousands of six-month or one-year positions, including internships at public agencies, were created. They may have improved the job rate slightly, but 80 trillion won and tens of thousands of jobs are nowhere to be seen. Now 900,000 more of those are to be created again, andspring for the job market seems remote.
At the beginning of the administration, Moon said he would be a “jobs president.” The first executive order he issued on the first day in office on May 10, 2017 was to install a committee for jobs. A board on jobs was set up in the office. After four years, the board is filled with red lights. While employment rates and the number of employees are declining, the unemployment rate and youth unemployment rate are going up.
Statistics Korea’s January employment report shows that the number of employed people over the age of 15 decreased by 1 million compared to January last year. The number of unemployed exceeds 1.57 million. As many as 2.71 million people have given up economic activities, and 770,000 people have given up even looking for jobs. That’s an employment disaster beyond shock.
The reason is simple. While Moon frames himself as a “jobs president,” his policies don’t. At the beginning of the administration, minimum wage increases and a reduced workweek that companies cannot bear were pushed through, followed by three anti-corporate laws — revised commercial law, fair trade law and financial group supervisory law — in the second half of the administration. As a result, companies are discouraged and left the country quickly, and naturally, good jobs decreased.
With one year left in office, shouldn’t he acknowledge the failure in his obs policy? Shouldn’t he accept the fact that good jobs come from companies and change his policy direction? That would be a true emergency measure for the many jobseekers exploring job sites in search of hiring notices.