SEOUL, Dec. 28 (Korea Bizwire) – Looking ahead to 2018, chief among South Koreans’ worries and hopes for the new year is employment.
Two out of three respondents in a survey regarding next year’s economic policy conducted by the Korea Development Institute were most concerned about future employment.
A total of 1,000 civilians and 334 economists took part in the survey, and the results were disclosed by the government on December 27.
The survey revealed that 66.8 percent of the civilian respondents and 59.7 percent of the economists picked “job growth/economic growth through wage increase” as the main issue the government should prioritize in formulating economic policy in 2018.
The two groups diverged on the question of what issue needed to be addressed first for job creation, as 39.5 percent of the civilians said easing the ongoing youth unemployment problem should be the first step, while 68.6 percent of the economists stressed the need for investment in job growth.
With South Korea’s population aging and birth rates low, 45.3 percent of the civilians called for more jobs for the elderly.
Similar results from another survey released on the same day confirmed the public’s unease over next year’s employment prospects.
The Seoul Institute, the research arm of the Seoul Metropolitan Government, gathered the opinions of 1,013 households from South Korea’s largest city on what the major economic issues in 2018 would be, and found that 20.9 percent (the highest proportion) believed that “youth unemployment/employment problems” would be the number one economic issue next year.
Other commonly named issues were “rise in living costs”, “real estate market”, “increased minimum wage” and “increased household debt”.
Though Seoulites felt that the economy had improved in Q4, they were pessimistic on the outcome for next year.
Seoul’s consumer sentiment index rose from 83.2 in Q1 to 102.1 in Q2, eventually reaching a high of 103.3 in the year’s last quarter.
However, the city’s “future living conditions index” dropped from Q3 to Q4 by 0.4 points to 97.9, signifying Seoul residents belief that next year will be a tough one economically due to factors like reduced household incomes and increased expenditures, according to the Seoul Institute.
The issue of employment is being felt among the young as well.
Over six days, online jobs site Alba Heaven asked 1,344 of its users between the ages of 10 and 29 about their hopes and wishes for the coming year; with 27.1 percent of all responses, the most commonly given answer to the statement “uplifting news I most want to hear in 2018” was “reduced youth unemployment rate”.
The second (24.7 percent) and third (23.8 percent) most popular responses were “the minimum wage will increase to 10,000 won in 2019” and “improving economy, stabilizing living costs”, respectively.
The public’s concerns may be well founded when considering the Ministry of Employment and Labor’s study on industry labor trends announced on December 28, which states that hiring will suffer a small drop throughout this quarter until the end of Q1 next year.
During this period, 303,000 hires are estimated, 0.3 percent (1,000) fewer than the same period last year.
In contrast, there were 636,000 new hires in Q3 this year, 3.7 percent (23,000) more than last year’s Q3.
Those on the frontlines of the employment struggle are bracing themselves for another tough year. Albamon, an online job service, recently surveyed 781 individuals who were looking for work.
Among those surveyed, 95.9 percent said that job prep this year had been either “somewhat difficult” or “very difficult”.
Most did not express much hope that next year’s job market would get any easier. At 54.2 percent, more than half said 2018′s employment prospects would be “similar to this year”, and 29.1 percent said they would be “worse than this year”. Only 16.8 percent expressed optimism, saying next year would be “better than this year”.
Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)