Proportion of Working Poor on the Rise

      June 14, 2012 13:17

      The number of the so-called working poor is on the increase, a recent report shows. According to the report released Tuesday by the Korea Development Institute, the poverty rate for households with working family members grew from 6.5 percent in 1996 to 8.5 percent in 2011.

      The poverty rate is the proportion of households with an annual income of less than 50 percent of the median income.

      The median income stood at W3.5 million (US$1=W1,168) a month for a household of two or more members in 2011, so a poverty rate of 8.5 percent means more than eight out of 100 households earned less than W1.75 million although one or more members in the household had a job.

      The rise is due to a growing number of low-paid jobs. According to Statistics Korea, more than half of Korea's salaried workers earn less than W2 million a month.

      This led to an increase in the number of couples working together for a living. "If a household has one low-paid worker who earns no more than W1.25 million a month, the poverty rate is 50.2 percent," the report explains. "But if two members work, the rate falls to 15.6 percent."

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