Korea's record low birthrates seem to start having worrying effects on the labor market as it has led to a decline in the working-age population between 15 and 64.

The Korea Labor Institute said in a research paper last week that the number of newly employed workers next year is estimated at 296,000, about 10 percent less than this year's 324,000, due to dwindling numbers of economically active people and a retiring baby-boomer generation.

The institute said it typically estimates the number of newly employed workers at more than 300,000 in times of a positive economic outlook. "But we may see an age when the number falls to the 100,000 range," it added.


Yet the institute does not expect the job market for young people to improve despite an impending labor shortage.

Due to the difference in working conditions between big and small businesses, the labor market imbalance is expected to continue. Young people typically refuse to work for smaller companies or lack the qualifications.

A researcher at the institute said, "We need to take aggressive steps to employ less active members of the working-age population, such as women and senior citizens, to prepare for a labor shortage over the long term."

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