Workers scarce as gigs pay better and are less stressful
With business curfews no longer in force — businesses can stay open as late as they please or are otherwise allowed by law — and gathering sizes no longer capped, the supply of labor is not keeping up with the demand for it.
Business owners complain that younger people are no longer applying for jobs even when offered more than minimum wage, which is now 9,160 won ($7.50).
"I don't get any applications when offering an hourly wage of 12,000 won," a post read on a site for business owners.
"It was not this difficult to hire workers even when the Living with Covid scheme was announced by the government," said the owner of a restaurant in Seongdong District, eastern Seoul.
The growth in demand for non-face-to-face and short-term workers is blamed. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, demand for workers for contactless jobs, such as food delivery and packaging, has increased.
Some people would rather flit around delivering food on a semi-independent basis than toil away in a ramyeon shop.
"Perks of having non-face-to-face jobs are that you don't get stressed from encountering your bosses or customers. I don't think I'll go back to a face-to-face working environment even if I get paid more," said a 24-year-old university student.
According to Statistics Korea, the number of hires working less than 17 hours a week was 2.31 million in March. This is a 45 percent increase from two years earlier.
The biggest advantage of short-term employment is that workers are only on the job when they want, and the pay can be good.
"I can earn 5 million won a month working as a delivery driver. I don't see any reason to why I should work in a part-time job that requires you to work for several months," said a 26-year-old university student.
The growing preference for part-time and piecework jobs is challenging many businesses already struggling with inflation.
"The revenue is slowly increasing, but the cost of ingredients and human resources increased more than ever. It is no exaggeration when we say part-time job workers are earning more than business owners," said a restaurant worker in Songpa District, southeastern Seoul.
The lack of labor is necessitating innovation.
"Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, younger people now think it is better to eat and spend less instead of working so hard to earn money. Business owners should seek alternative ways such as implementing kiosks at their restaurants instead of looking for workers," said Kim Sang-bong, an economics professor at Hansung University.
BY PARK KUN [email@example.com]