New Hires Keep Declining
Korea's semiconductor and petrochemical industries achieved record earnings last year, but new hires continue to decline.
The Korea Employers Federation surveyed 258 businesses employing at least 100 workers and found that they plan to hire 6.6 percent fewer new workers in 2017 than last year. That means the decline is accelerating, since new hires fell 3.6 percent in 2015 and 4.4 percent last year.
Overall hiring by major companies has also dropped. Korea's biggest conglomerate Samsung employed 93,200 new workers last year, down 4.4 percent from 2015.
New hires at the nation's 10 biggest conglomerates, which are the most coveted jobs, also dropped. According to market researcher FnGuide, 87 subsidiaries of the top 10 hired 629,517 workers, down 2.3 percent. The reasons for the decline are dimming economic prospects and uncertainties both domestically and overseas.
In the survey, 46.6 percent of businesses cited slow economic conditions and worsening earnings as the main reasons for cutting back on new hires, 21.2 percent growing economic uncertainties and 14 percent decrease of headcount.
These patterns will be tough to change quickly. The semiconductor and petrochemical industries achieved strong earnings last year but they are not very labor-intensive. On the other hand the car and shipbuilding industries, which do require a lot of labor, are achieving poor earnings.
Woo Gwang-ho at the Korea Economic Research Institute, said, "As the industrial structure becomes reorganized based on information and communications technology, it has become difficult to create new jobs in traditional industries."