SEJONG, Dec. 27 (Korea Bizwire) — Small business owners in South Korea reported an average operating profit of 34 million won (US$29,264) last year, a survey showed Friday.
According to the survey of 2,470 small business owners, conducted by Statistics Korea, they also posted average sales of 235 million won last year.
The survey did not provide annual comparative figures, but last year’s government survey showed that small business owners reported an average operating profit of 32.25 million won on sales of 237 million won in 2017.
In 2018, there were 2.74 million small merchants, and they hired 6.32 million people, according to the survey.
Industry watchers said small business owners have faced a bumpy road despite a series of government measures to support them.
The year 2018 was one of the worst years for self-employed people in South Korea’s economy as they were hit hard by flaccid consumer spending, tougher competition, soaring rents, rising labor costs and higher interest rates.
Amid worsened business conditions, more than 1 million self-employed people were estimated to have closed up shop in 2018.
South Korea hiked its minimum wage by 16.4 percent last year and raised it by a further 10.9 percent in 2019.
The sharp increase has stirred up strong objections from small merchants, who complain of higher labor costs amid an economic downturn.
Critics have argued that the increase is hurting part-time jobs and weighing down the local economy as a whole.