Most Koreans Saw Zero Wage Rises Last Year

  • By Lee Jin-seok

    April 14, 2017 12:01

    The Korean economy seems to be picking up but the impact has yet to be felt by ordinary workers.

    A poll suggests the wages of seven out of 10 Koreans either remained unchanged or actually shrank over the past year. The Chosun Ilbo asked Gallup to poll 1,011 adults and found that the wages of 50.8 percent stagnated, while 10.7 percent said their income fell slightly and 14.6 percent markedly.

    Only 23.3 percent said their salaries rose. Also, one in three respondents either took out loans or gave notice on insurance to cover living expenses over the past year.

    The government announces a "misery index" four times a year, and the latest figure stood at 22.2. Invented by American economist Arthur Okun, the index measures how average citizens fare economically by adding the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to annual inflation and subtracting GDP growth.

    Government data show a reading of only 3.0, but the actual impact felt by ordinary people is seven times higher once unemployment and real inflation are factored in.

    For instance, Statistics Korea data show an unemployment rate of 3.2 percent until the fourth quarter of last year, but the real jobless rate stands at 12.5 percent.

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